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The USS Constitution Sails Again

August 23rd, 2012

Make way for the USS Constitution, for she once again sails the seas. Commissioned for the US Navy by the Naval Act of 1794, she was launched in 1797 as one of six heavily armed frigates. The decision at the time was to make these heavy frigates the largest warships that the United States was fielding, so at the time of her launching, she was the largest warship sailing under the flag of the United States. She was named by none other than George Washington, and went on to faithfully serve many US Presidents after her.

Picture of a model of the USS ConstitutionThe USS Constitution is most known for her role in the War of 1812 where she defeated the HMS Guerriere. The battle saw the two ships directly alongside each other for much of the time, yet rough seas prevented any boarding action. Instead the USS Constitution’s guns savaged her British rival, while many of the shots from the Guerriere reportedly bounced off of the Constitution’s hull. Which caused an American sailor to shout, “Huzzah, her sides are made of iron,” and, from this, the USS Constitution became known as “Old Ironsides.”

By 1830, the USS Constitution was getting quite old, particularly for a wooden ship. The Boston Advertiser erroneously reported that the US Navy had decided to scrap her. This promoted Oliver Wendell Holmes to write and publish the poem, “Old Ironsides” which caused such an outcry amongst the American public that the Navy was forced to continue her upkeep. And so the decision was made to transform the USS Constitution from a warship, to one of public relations on behalf of the US Navy- a tradition which the Navy has maintained to this day.

Picture of a model of the USS ConstitutionThe Constitution has been repaired and refitted many times over her history, but her only real means of propulsion has remained the use of her sails. As sail has become a rather impractical method of powering a ship, there has always been the question of whether she should be towed to her destinations or whether US Navy sailors would be trained in such an outdated mode of transportation. Though she has been towed plenty of times throughout her history, there have been occasions where she used the wind to sail entirely under her own power. In 1997, she sailed under her own power to celebrate the 200th anniversary of her launching. Most recently, the Constitution sailed under her own power to celebrate the 200th anniversary of her battle with HMS Guerriere. She was sailed by a crew of 60 sailors, all active duty members of the Navy, and fired off a 21-gun salute to adoring audiences. Clearly, she is a beautiful piece of American history.

Now you can own a piece of American history, by purchasing one of Handcrafted Model Ships very own, USS Constitution model ships. Each was designed by Master Builder Richard Norris to be as close to the design of the actual ship as possible. The handcrafted model sailboats are available in 7” miniature all the way up to the really ginormous 50” monstrosity. Each serves as a beautiful reminder of American naval power and ingenuity.

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