The USS Constitution is a key piece of history when it comes to the United States Navy. Built in 1795, it was one of the first of six frigates originally commissioned by Congress under the direction of President George Washington. At the time it wasn't even clear whether they would be used, but alas, after its completion in 1797, the Department of the Navy was created to protect the United States on the High Seas.
The USS Constitution is docked in the historical Navy Yard in Boston 364 days a year now, but this was not always so. The ship helped to prove the United States as a naval powerhouse in battles in the West Indies with France in the early 1800s. During the War of 1812 with England, the USS Constitution earned a surprising victory over the Royal Navy's best ship, withstanding numerous direct hits. This victory earned the USS Constitution the nickname "Old Ironsides," which is still commonly used when describing the ship today.
Thanks to wonderful preservation and restoration techniques, the USS Constitution is still a great example of US Naval history. The Naval Historical Center has done its research to make sure that the Constitution today looks as it did during the War of 1812. The barracks, figurehead, and wood work have all been documented and restored. It is because of their efforts that visitors today can experience this historical time capsule.
The USS Constitution is open for visitors Monday through Friday from 10am to 5pm on all but major holidays. Admission is free and tours are given every half hour by the staff. Tours guide visitors through the spar, gun, berth, and orlop decks and they are given by a truly informative perspective. They are great for any history buff, curious visitor, or even children.
Every year, the USS Constitution departs its dock momentarily on July 4th for it's annual turnaround cruise. In order to get on the boat for this ride, you need to be selected via lottery. If you're one of the lucky few to win a spot, you're in for a rare treat. To enter the lottery, go to www.ussconstitution.navy.mil for more information.