The USS Constitution – Old Ironsides (Boston, Massachusetts, USA)

The USS Constitution (Old Ironsides)

After our visit to USS Constitution Museum and  the World War II Fletcher-class destroyer USS Cassin Young, Jandy and I proceeded to the highlight of our tour of the Charlestown Navy Yard – our visit to the USS Constitution. There was already a long queue of visitors waiting for the gates to open when we arrived (it opened at 3:30 PM).  To get in, we had to show valid IDs (in this case our passports).

Check out “USS Constitution Museum” and “USS Cassin Young

The ship at Dry Dock 1

The USS Constitution, a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy launched in 1797, is usually berthed at Pier 1 of the former Charlestown Navy Yard, at one end of Boston’s Freedom Trail  but, during our visit, it was in Dry Dock 1 (here since May 18, 2015) for her scheduled 2-year restoration program to restore the copper sheets on the ship’s hull and replace additional deck boards.  The lower deck was stripped of her guns.

The ship’s prow

Constitution is most noted for her actions during the War of 1812 against the United Kingdom, when she captured numerous merchant ships and defeated the British warships HMS GuerriereJavaPictouCyane and Levant during four separate engagements. She earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” because the cannon fire during here encounter with the Guerriere  seemed as if they couldn’t penetrate her strong oak hull.

The author at the gangplank leading up to the ship

Constitution’s stated mission today is to promote understanding of the Navy’s role in war and peace through educational outreach, historical demonstration, and active participation in public events as part of the Naval History & Heritage Command.

A member of the ship’s crew narrating the history of the ship to visitors

As a fully commissioned U.S. Navy ship, her crew of 60 officers and sailors participate in ceremonies, educational programs, and special events while keeping her open to visitors year round and providing free tours.

Jandy beside the double steering wheel of the ship

The officers and crew are all active-duty U.S. Navy personnel, and the assignment is considered to be special duty in the U.S. Navy. Traditionally, command of the vessel is assigned to a Navy commander.

List of Commanding Officers of the USS Constitution

The Constitution, open to the public year-round, typically makes at least one “turnaround cruise” each year, during which she is towed into Boston Harbor to perform underway demonstrations, including a gun drill.  She then returns to her dock in the opposite direction to ensure that she weathers evenly. The “turnaround cruise” is open to the general public based on a “lottery draw” of interested persons. The privately run USS Constitution Museum is nearby, located in a restored shipyard building at the foot of Pier Two.

National Historic Landmark Plaque

Here are some interesting trivia regarding this historic ship:

  • It was named by Pres. George Washington after the Constitution of the United States of America.
  • The Constitution was one of six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794and the third constructed.  Joshua Humphreys designed the frigates to be the young Navy’s capital ships, and so Constitution and her sisters were larger and more heavily armed and built than standard frigates of the period. She was built in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts at Edmund Hartt‘s shipyard.
  • Her first duties with the newly formed U.S. Navy were to provide protection for American merchant shipping during the Quasi-War with France and to defeat the Barbary pirates in the First Barbary War.
  • She is the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat
  • The battle with Guerriere earned her the nickname of “Old Ironsides” and public adoration that has repeatedly saved her from scrapping.
  • Though the Constitution was rated as a 44-gun frigate, she often carried more than 50 guns at a time.
  • During the War of 1812, Constitution’s battery of guns typically consisted of thirty 24-pounder (11 kgs.) cannons, with 15 on each side of the gun deck. A total of 22 cannons were deployed on the spar deck, 11 per side, each a 32-pounder (15 kgs.) carronade. Four chase guns were also positioned, two each at the stern and bow.
  • Constitution’s hull was built 530 mm. (21 in.) thick and her length between perpendiculars was 53 m. (175 ft.), with a 62 m. (204 ft.) length overall and a width of 13.26 m. (43 ft. 6 in.).
  • Her six-sail battle configuration consisted of jibs, topsails and driver.
  • In total, 24 hectares (60 acres) of trees, primarily pine and oak (including southern live oak which was cut from Gascoigne Bluff and milled near  Simons, Georgia) were needed for her construction.
  • Many times, souvenirs were made from her old planking. Isaac Hull ordered walking canes, picture frames and even a phaeton that was presented to Pres. Andrew Jackson. Funds for her 1927-1931 restoration were also raised from memorabilia made of her discarded planking.
  • Busts, depicting Isaac Hull, William Bainbridge and Charles Stewart, were added to her stern, remaining in place for the next 40 years. A figurehead of President Andrew Jackson witht a top hat was also installed under the bowsprit, a subject of much controversy due to Jackson’s political unpopularity in Boston at the time. Another likeness of Jackson, this time with a more Napoleonic pose, was installed in 1847.
  • Most of the required funds for her 1927-1931 restoration were raised privately.  In 1924, the estimated cost of her repair was US$400,000 but it reached over US$745,000 after costs of materials were realized. The first effort, sponsored by the national Elks Lodge, raised US$148,000 from pennies donated by schoolchildren. In September 1926, Wilbur Secretary of the Navy Curtis D. Wilbur began to sell copies of a painting of Constitution at 50 cents per copy. The silent film Old Ironsides, portraying Constitution during the First Barbary War, premiered in December 1926, helped spur more contributions to her restoration fund. Memorabilia made of her discarded planking and metal also raised funds. More than US$600,000 was eventually raised after expenses, still short of the required amount. To complete the restoration, Congress approved up to US$300,000. The final cost of the restoration was US$946,000.
  • Materials for its restoration, especially the live oak needed, were difficult to find. Lt. John A. Lord, selected to oversee the 1927-1931 reconstruction project, uncovered a long-forgotten stash of some 1,500 short tons (1,400 t) of live oak (cut sometime in the 1850s for a ship building program that never began) at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. During her 1973-1974 restoration, large quantities of red oak, added in the 1950s as an experiment to see if it would last better than the live oak, were removed and replaced (it had mostly rotted away by 1970). “Constitution Grove,” a 100 sq. km. (25,000-acre) tract of land located at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indiana dedicated by Cmdr. Tyrone G. Martin in May 1976, now supplies the majority of the white oak required for repair work. For the 1995 restoration, live oak trees felled by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 were also donated by the city of Charleston, South Carolina.  The International Paper Company also donated live oak from its own property.
  • For the 3-year tour of the country in the 1930s, many amenities were installed to prepare her including water piping throughout, modern toilet and shower facilities, electric lighting to make the interior visible for visitors, and several peloruses for ease of navigation. The tour began with much celebration and a 21-gun salute, at Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Due to the schedule of visits on her itinerary (90 port cities along the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts), she was towed by the minesweeper Grebe and she went as far north as Bar Harbor, Maine, south and into the Gulf of Mexico then through the Panama Canal Zone, and north again to Bellingham, Washington on the Pacific Coast.
  • Since her 1927–1931 restoration, all of the guns aboard Constitution are replicas. Most were cast in 1930, but two carronades on the spar deck were cast in 1983. In order to restore the capability of firing ceremonial salutes, a modern 40 mm. (1.6 in.) saluting gun was hidden inside the forward long gun on each side during her 1973–1976 restoration.
  • During the 1976 Bicentennial, over 900,000 visitors toured “Old Ironsides.”
  • The Naval History and Heritage Command Detachment Boston, responsible for planning and performing her maintenance, repair, and restoration, keeping her as close as possible to her 1812 configuration, estimates that approximately 10–15%of the timber in Constitution contains original material installed during her initial construction period in the years 1795–1797.
  • In 2003, the special effects crew from the production of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World spent several days using Constitution as a computer model, using stem-to-stern digital image scans of “Old Ironsides,”for the fictional French frigate Acheron.

The lower deck of the ship

Here’s the historical timeline of the Constitution:

  • On November 1, 1794, the Constitution’s keel is laid down at Edmund Hartt‘s shipyard in Boston, Massachusetts under the supervision of Capt. Samuel Nicholson and master shipwright George Claghorn
  • On September 20, 1797, the Constitution is launched in a ceremony attended by Pres. John Adams and Massachusetts Gov. Increase Sumner.
  • On October 21, 1797, after a month of rebuilding the ways, the Constitution finally slips into Boston Harbor, with Capt. James Sever breaking a bottle of Madeira wine on her bowsprit.
  • On the evening of July 22, 1798, she puts to sea, with orders to patrol the Eastern seaboard between New Hampshire and New York.
  • On September 8, 1798, off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, the Constitution intercepts the Niger, a 24-gun ship sailing with a French crew, en route from Jamaica to Philadelphia, claiming to have been under the orders of Great Britain. Nicholson has the crewmen imprisoned, placing a prize crew aboard Niger and bringing her into Norfolk, Virginia. The ship and her crew are released to continue their voyage and the American government pays a restitution of $11,000 to Great Britain.
  • On December 29, 1798, after repairs to her bowsprit which was severely damaged in a gale, the Constitution departs Boston.
  • On January 15, 1799, the Constitution intercepts the Spencer, an English merchantman which had been taken prize by the French frigate L’Insurgente a few days prior. Though technically a French ship operated by a French prize crew, Nicholson releases the Spencer and her crew the next morning.
  • On March 1, 1799, the Constitution encounters HMS Santa Margarita whose captain was an acquaintance of Nicholson. The two agree to a sailing duel and, after 11 hours of sailing, Santa Margarita lowers her sails and admits defeat, paying off the bet with a cask of wine to Nicholson.
  • On March 27, 1799, the Constitution manages to recapture the American sloop Neutrality and, a few days later, the French ship Carteret.
  • On May 14, 1799, she returns to Boston and Nicholson was relieved of command.
  • On July 23, 1799, after repairs and resupply are completed, the Constitution departs Boston, now under the command of Capt. Silas Talbot, for Saint-Domingue in the West Indies, via Norfolk, on a mission to interrupt French shipping.
  • On September 15, 1799, she takes the Amelia from a French prize crew and Talbot sends the ship back to New York City with an American prize crew.
  • On October 15, 1799, the Constitution arrives at Saint-Domingue and rendezvous with BostonGeneral Greene and Norfolk.
  • On July 13, 1800, she puts into Cap Français for repairs of her mainmast.
  • On July 23, 1800, the Constitution is relieved of duty by the Constellation.
  • On August 24, 1800, after the Constitution escorts 12 merchantmen to Philadelphia, she puts in at Boston where she receives new masts, sails and rigging.
  • On December 17, 1800, the Constitution again sails for the West Indies as squadron flagship, rendezvousing with CongressAdamsAugustaRichmond and Trumbull.
  • On July 2, 1802, she is placed in ordinary.
  • On May 13, 1803, during the Quasi-War with the Barbary States, Capt. Edward Preble recommissions Constitution as his flagship and makes preparations to command a new squadron for a blockade attempt.
  • On August 14, 1803, the Constitution departs Boston.
  • On September 6, 1803, she almost has a near encounter with the HMS Maidstone, a 32-gun frigate, near the Rock of Gibraltar.
  • On September 12, 1803, the Constitution arrives at Gibraltar where Preble waits for the other ships of the squadron.
  • On October 3, 1803, the Constitution and Nautilus departs Gibraltar
  • On October 4, 1803, they arrive at TangiersAdams and New York arrives the next day. With four American warships in his harbor, the Sultan was glad to arrange the transfer of ships between the two nations
  • On October 14, 1803, Preble departs with his squadron, heading back to Gibraltar.
  • On the morning of August 3, 1804, the ConstitutionArgusEnterpriseScourgeSyren, six gunboats, and two bomb ketches arrive and immediately begin operations for the attack on Tripoli. In the harbor, Constitution and her squadron severely damage or destroy, in a series of attacks over the coming month, the 22 Tripoline gunboats that meet them, taking their crews prisoner. Constitution primarily provided gunfire support, bombarding the shore batteries of Tripoli.
  • On August 11, 1804, the Constitution is ordered to Malta for repairs and, while en route, captures two Greek vessels attempting to deliver wheat into Tripoli.
  • On August 12, 1804, a collision with the President, attributed to a sudden change in wind direction, severely damages the ship’s bow, stern and the figurehead of Hercules.
  • On November 9, 1804, while she underwent repairs and resupply in Malta, Capt. John Rodgers assumes command of Constitution.
  • On April 5, 1805, she resumes the blockade of Tripoli, capturing a Tripoline xebec, along with two prizes that the xebec had captured.
  • On June 3, 1805, a peace treaty with Tripoli was signed  on board the Constitution
  • On July 30, 1805, she arrives in Tunis.
  • On August 14, 1805, after a a short-term blockade of the harbor by the Constitution, CongressConstellationEnterpriseEssexFranklinHornetJohn AdamsNautilusSyren and eight gunboats, a peace treaty was signed.
  • On May 29, 1806, after performing routine patrols and observing the French and Royal Navy operations of the Napoleonic Wars, Rodgers turns over the command of the squadron and Constitution to Capt. Hugh G. Campbell.
  • On May 15, 1807, James Barron sails the Chesapeake out of Norfolk to replace Constitution as the flagship of the Mediterranean squadron. However, he encounters HMS Leopard, resulting in the Chesapeake–Leopard Affair and delaying the relief of Constitution.
  • On September 8, 1807, Campbell and the squadron are ordered home and set sail for Boston
  • On October 14, 1807, the squadron arrives in Boston.
  • On December 1807, the Constitution is recommissioned, with Capt. John Rodgers again taking command to oversee a major refitting and overhaul at a cost just under $100,000.
  • On June 1810, Isaac Hull takes command.
  • On August 5, 1811, Hull departs for France, transporting the new Ambassador Joel Barlow and his family, arriving on September 1.
  • On February 18, 1812, they arrive back to the United States.
  • On July 12, 1812, after war is declared with Britain on June 18, Hull put to sea attempting to join the five ships of a squadron under the command of Rodgers in the President.
  • On July 17, 1812, off Egg Harbor, New Jersey, Hull sights 5 ships (HMS AeolusAfricaBelvideraGuerriere and Shannon) of a British squadron out of Halifax. They sight the Constitution and give chase.
  • On July 19, 1812, after a 57-hour chase, the Constitution finally outruns the squadron, pumping overboard 2,300 US gal (8.7 kl) of drinking water and pulled far enough ahead of the British that they abandoned the pursuit.
  • On July 27, 1812, Constitution arrives in Boston and remains there just long enough to replenish her supplies.
  • On August 2, 1812, to avoid being blockaded in port, Hull sails without orders, heading on a northeast route towards the British shipping lanes near Halifax and the Gulf of Saint LawrenceConstitution captures 3 British merchantmen, which Hull burns rather than risk taking them back to an American port.
  • On August 16, 1812, he sails in pursuit of a British frigate 190 kms. (120 mi.) to the south.
  • On August 19, 1812, he sights the frigate HMS Guerriere and, after a furious battle, the Constitution’s sailing ability and heavier broadsides turned the British frigate into an unmanageable hulk, with close to a third of her crew wounded or killed, while Constitution remained largely intact as many of the British shots had rebounded harmlessly off its hull. The British surrendered. The Guerriere was so badly damaged that she was not worth towing to port and, the next morning, Hull ordered her to be burned after transferring the British prisoners onto Constitution.
  • On August 30, 1812, the Constitution arrives back in Boston where Hull and his crew find that news of their victory has spread fast, and they are hailed as heroes.
  • On September 8, 1812, William Bainbridge takes command of the Constitution and prepares her for another mission in British shipping lanes near Brazil
  • On October 27, 1812, she sets sail with the Hornet
  • On December 13, 1812, they arrive near São Salvador, sighting HMS Bonne Citoyenne in the harbor. The captain of Bonne Citoyenne, reportedly carrying $1,600,000 in specie to England, refuses to leave the neutral harbor lest he lose his cargo. Constitution sails offshore in search of prizes, leaving Hornet to await the departure of Bonne Citoyenne.
  • On December 29, 1812, she meets with HMS Java, under Capt. Henry Lambert and, after continuously raking her with broadsides, Java lays in shambles, an unmanageable wreck with a badly wounded crew, and she surrenders. Java is far too damaged to retain as a prize and Bainbridge orders her burned. Bainbridge is wounded twice during the battle.
  • On January 1, 1813, Constitution returns to São Salvador to disembark the prisoners of Java, where she meets with Hornet and her two British prizes.
  • On January 5, 1813, Bainbridge orders Constitution to sail for Boston for extensive repairs.
  • On February 15, 1813, the Constitution arrives in Boston to even greater celebrations than Hull had received a few months earlier.
  • On July 18, 1813, Charles Stewart takes command of the ship, struggling to complete the construction and recruitment of a new crew.
  • On December 31, 1813, she finally makes sail, setting course for the West Indies to harass British shipping.
  • By late March 1814, she captures 5 merchant ships and the 14-gun HMS Pictou. She also pursues HMS Columbine and HMS Pique but, after realizing that she is an American frigate, both ships escape.
  • On March 27, 1814, her mainmast splits off the coast of Bermuda requiring immediate repair.
  • On April 3, 1814, while enroute to Boston, British ships HMS Junon and Tenedos  pursue her but, after drinking water, food and spirits were cast overboard to lighten her load and gain speed, she makes her way into Marblehead, Massachusetts where the British call off the pursuit. Two weeks later, Constitution makes her way into Boston harbor where she remains blockaded in port until mid-December.
  • On the afternoon of December 18, 1814, the Constitution escapes from Boston Harbor and again sets course for Bermuda. Capt. George Collier gathers a squadron consisting of the 50-gun HMS Leander, Newcastle and Acasta and sets off in pursuit, but he was unable to overtake her.
  • On December 24, 1814, the Constitution intercepts the merchantman Lord Nelson and places a prize crew on board.
  • On February 8, 1815, Constitution is cruising off Cape Finisterre when Stewart learns that the Treaty of Ghent has been signed.
  • On February 16, 1815, realizing that a state of war still exists until the treaty is ratified, the Constitution captures the British merchantman Susanna (her cargo of animal hides were valued at $75,000).
  • On February 20, 1815, the Constitution sights the small British ships Cyane and Levant sailing in company and gives chase, capturing both of them.
  • On March 10, 1815, the trio arrives at Porto Praya at the Cape Verde Islands.
  • On the morning of March 11, 1815, Collier’s squadron was spotted on a course for the harbor, and Stewart orders all ships to sail immediately. Cyane is able to elude the squadron and make sail for America, where she arrives on April 10, but Levant is overtaken and recaptured. While Collier’s squadron was distracted with Levant, the Constitution makes its escape.
  • On April 2, 1815, Constitution puts into Maranhão to offload her British prisoners and replenish her drinking water.
  • On April 28, 1815, after receiving verification of Treaty of Ghent at San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Constitution sets course for New York
  • On May 15, 1815, the Constitution arrives in New York to large celebrations.
  • In January 1816, Constitution is moved to Boston and placed in ordinary, sitting out the Second Barbary War.
  • In April 1820, Isaac Hull, now Charlestown Navy Yard’s commandant, directs a refitting of Constitution to prepare her for duty with the Mediterranean Squadron.
  • On May 13, 1821, the Constitution, now under Jacob Jones, departs on a three-year uneventful tour of duty in the Mediterranean, sailing in company with Ontario and Nonsuch.
  • On May 31, 1824, Constitution arrives in Boston and Jones is relieved of command, replaced by Thomas Macdonough.
  • On October 29, 1824, the Constitution sails for the Mediterranean under the direction of John Rodgers in North Carolina.
  • During December and into January 1826, Constitution puts in for repairs.
  • On February 21, 1826, Daniel Todd Patterson assumes command after Macdonough resigns his command for health reasons on October 9, 1825.
  • By August 1826, she puts into Port Mahon, suffering decay of her spar deck, and she remains there until temporary repairs are completed in March 1827.
  • On July 4, 1828 Constitution returned to Boston and was placed in reserve.
  • On September 14, 1830, an article appeared in the Boston Advertiser which erroneously claims that the Navy intended to scrap Constitution.
  • On September 16, 1830, Oliver Wendell Holmes‘ poem “Old Ironsides” is published in the same paper and later all over the country, igniting public indignation and inciting efforts to save “Old Ironsides” from the scrap yard.
  • After Secretary Branch approves the repair cost of over $157,000, and Constitution begins a leisurely repair period while awaiting completion of the dry dock, then under construction at the yard.
  • On June 24, 1833, Constitution enters dry dock and Capt. Jesse Elliott, the new commander of the Navy yard, oversees her reconstruction. Constitution had 760 mm. (30 in.) of hogin her keel and she remains in dry dock until June 21, 1834.
  • In March 1835, the Constitution, with Elliot in command, gets underway to New York
  • On March 16, 1835, Constitution sets a course for France to deliver Edward Livingston to his post as Minister.
  • On April 10, 1835, she arrives in France
  • On May 16, 1835, Constitution begins the return voyage back to Boston
  • On June 23, 1835, she arrives back in Boston
  • On August 19, 1835, Constitution sails again to take her station as flagship in the Mediterranean
  • On September 19, 1835, she arrives at Port Mahon to begin her uneventful duty over the next two years as she and United States make routine patrols and diplomatic visits.
  • From April 1837 into February 1838, Elliot collects various ancient artifacts to carry back to America.
  • On July 31, 1835, Constitution arrives in Norfolk.
  • On March 1, 1839, as flagship of the Pacific Squadron under the command of Capt. Daniel Turner, she begins her next voyage with the duty of patrolling the western coast of South America, visiting Valparaíso, Callao, Paita and Puna.
  • On August 29, 1841, on her return voyage, Emperor Pedro II of Brazil visits her at Rio de Janeiro.
  • On October 31, 1841, she returns to Norfolk.
  • On June 22, 1842 she is recommissioned, under the command of Foxhall Alexander Parker, for duty with the Home Squadron. After spending months in port she puts to sea for 3 weeks during December, then is again put in ordinary.
  • In late 1843, she is moored at Norfolk, serving as a receiving ship.
  • On November 6, 1843, Capt. John Percival makes necessary repairs and upgrades on the ship at a cost of $10,000 and after several months of labor.
  • On May 29, 1844, Constitution gets underway carrying Ambassador to Brazil Henry A. Wise and his family
  • On August 2, 1844, after making two port visits along the way, she arrives at Rio de Janeiro.
  • On September 8, 1844, Constitution sails again, making port calls at Madagascar, Mozambique, and Zanzibar
  • On January 1, 1845, she arrives in Sumatra where many of her crew begin to suffer from dysentery and fevers, causing several deaths, which leads Percival to set course for Singapore
  • On February 8, 1845, Constitution arrives in Singapore where Commodore Henry Ducie Chads (a lieutenant in the Java when she surrendered to William Bainbridge 33 years earlier) of the HMS Cambrian pays a visit to Constitution, offering what medical assistance his squadron could provide.
  • On May 10, 1845, after leaving Singapore, Constitution arrives in Turon, Cochinchina (present day Da Nang, Vietnam).
  • On May 26, 1845, after failing to obtain the release of French missionary Dominique Lefèbvre who was being held captive under sentence of death, the Constitution departs.
  • On June 20, 1845, she arrives in Canton, China and spends the next six weeks there, with Percival making shore and diplomatic visits.
  • On September 18, 1845, she reaches Manila, spending a week there preparing to enter the Pacific Ocean.
  • On September 28, 1845, she sails for the Hawaiian Islands
  • On November 16, 1845, the Constitution arrives in Honolulu where she finds Commodore John D. Sloat and his flagship Savannah there
  • On January 13, 1846, after provisioning for six months, the Constitution arrives in Mazatlán, Mexico as the United States was preparing for war after the Texas annexation.
  • On April 22, 1846, after sitting at anchor for more than 3 months, she sails for home.
  • On July 4, 1846, she rounds Cape Horn. Upon arrival at Rio de Janeiro, the ship’s party learns that the Mexican War had begun on May13, soon after their departure from Mazatlán.
  • On September 27, 1846, she arrives in Boston
  • On October 5, 1846, the Constitution is mothballed.
  • In 1847, the Constitution begins refitting for duty with the Mediterranean Squadron.
  • On December 9, 1848, under Capt. John Gwinn, the Constitution departs.
  • On January 19, 1849, she arrives in Tripoli.
  • On August 1, 1849, at Gaeta,  she receives King Ferdinand II and Pope Pius IX on board, giving them a 21-gun salute, the first time that a Pope set foot on American territory or its equivalent.
  • On September 1, 1849, Capt. Gwinn dies of chronic gastritis at Palermo and, on September 9, is buried near Lazaretto.
  • On September 18, 1849, Capt. Thomas Conover assumes command  and resumes routine patrolling for the rest of the tour,
  • On December 1, 1850, she heads home and is involved in a severe collision with the English brig Confidence, cutting her in half and sinking her with the loss of her captain. The surviving crew members are carried back to America
  • On January 1851, the Constitution is again put back in ordinary, this time at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
  • On December 22, 1852, the Constitution is recommissioned under the command of John Rudd.
  • On March 2, 1853, she departs the yard on a leisurely sail towards Africa, carrying Commodore Isaac Mayo for duty with the African Squadron
  • On June 18, 1853, she arrives in Africa with Mayo making a diplomatic visit in Liberia to arrange a treaty between the Gbarbo and the Grebo tribes, resorting to firing cannons into the village of the Gbarbo in order to get them to agree to the treaty.
  • On November 3, 1853, near Angola, the Constitution takes the American ship H. N. Gambrill (the Constitution’s final capture), which was involved in the slave trade, as a prize.
  • On March 31, 1855, she sails for home but is diverted to Havana, Cuba
  • On March 16, 1855, she arrives in Havana
  • On March 24, 1855, she departs Havana for Portsmouth Navy Yard
  • On June 14, 1855, she is decommissioned, ending her last duty on the front lines.
  • In 1857, Constitution is moved to dry dock at the Portsmouth Navy Yard for conversion into a training ship. Classrooms are added on her spar and gun decks and her armament is reduced to only 16 guns. Her rating was changed to a “2nd rate ship.”
  • On August 1, 1860, she is recommissioned and moves from Portsmouth to the US Naval Academy.
  • In April 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War, Constitution is ordered to relocate farther north after threats are made against her by Confederate sympathizers. Several companies of Massachusetts volunteer soldiers are stationed aboard for her protection.
  • On April 29, 1861, she arrives in New York City after being towed there by R. R. Cuyler. She was subsequently relocated, along with the Naval Academy, to Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island for the duration of the war.
  • On August 1865, Constitution, along with the rest of the Naval Academy, moves back to Annapolis. Once settled in at the Academy, a series of upgrades are installed that includes steam pipes and radiators to supply heat from shore, along with gas lighting.
  • From June to August each year, she would depart with midshipmen for their summer training cruise and then return to operate for the rest of the year as a classroom.
  • In June 1867, her last known plank owner William Bryant dies in Maine.
  • On November 1867, George Dewey assumes command and serves as her commanding officer until 1870.
  • In 1871, her condition had deteriorated to the point where she is retired as a training ship
  • On September 26, 1871, after being towed to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, she is again placed in ordinary.
  • Beginning in 1873, Constitution is overhauled in order to participate in the centennial celebrations of the United States. Work begins slowly and is intermittently delayed by the transition of the Philadelphia Navy Yard to League Island.
  • By late 1875, the Navy opens bids for an outside contractor to complete the work
  • In May 1876, Constitution is moved to Wood, Dialogue, and Company  where a coal bin and a small boiler for heat were installed. At this time The Andrew Jackson figurehead is removed and given to the Naval Academy Museum where it remains today.
  • During the rest of 1876, her construction drags on until the centennial celebrations had long passed, and the Navy decided that she would be used as a training and school ship for apprentices.
  • On January 9, 1878, Oscar C. Badger takes command to prepare her for a voyage to the Paris Exposition of 1878, transporting artwork and industrial displays to France. Three railroad cars are lashed to her spar deck and all but two cannons are removed.
  • On March 4, 1878, she departs for France. While docking at Le Havre, she collides with Ville de Paris, resulting in her entering dry dock for repairs and remaining in France for the rest of 1878.
  • On January 16, 1878, she gets underway for the United States
  • On January 17, 1878, poor navigation runs her aground near Bollard Head. She is towed into the Portsmouth Naval Dockyard, Hampshire, England, where only minor damage is found and repaired.
  • On February 13, 1878, during heavy storms, her rudder is damaged, resulting in a total loss of steering control with the rudder smashing into the hull at random. To secure it, 3 crewmen go over the stern on ropes and boatswain’s chairs.
  • The morning of February 14, 1878, they rig a temporary steering system and Badger sets a course for the nearest port
  • On February 18, 1878, she arrived in Lisbon where slow dock services delay her departure.
  • On April 11, 1878, she departs Lisbon
  • On May 24, 1878, she arrives in the United State where Constitution returns to her previous duties of training apprentice boys. Over the next two years, she continues her training cruises.
  • In 1881, after it soon became apparent that her overhaul in 1876 had been of poor quality, Constitution was determined to be unfit for service and, as funds were lacking for another overhaul, she was decommissioned, ending her days as an active-duty naval ship. She is moved to the Portsmouth Navy Yard and used as a receiving ship. There, she had a housing structure built over her spar deck, and her condition continued to deteriorate, with only a minimal amount of maintenance performed to keep her afloat.
  • In 1896, aware of her condition, Massachusetts Congressman John F. Fitzgerald proposes to Congress that funds be appropriated to restore her enough to return to Boston.
  • On September 21, 1897, she arrives, under tow, at the Charlestown Navy Yard and, after her centennial celebrations in October, she lays there with an uncertain future.
  • In 1900, Congress authorizes restoration of Constitution but does not appropriate any funds for the project.
  • In 1903, the Massachusetts Historical Society‘s president Charles Francis Adams requests Congress that Constitution be rehabilitated and placed back into active service.
  • In 1905, after Secretary of the Navy Charles Joseph Bonaparte suggests that Constitution be towed out to sea and used as target practice, after which she would be allowed to sink, Moses H. Gulesian, a businessman from Worcester, Massachusetts, reads about this in a Boston newspaper and offers to purchase her for US$10,000. The State Department refuses, but Gulesian initiates a public campaign which begins from Boston and ultimately “spilled all over the country.”
  • In 1906, a storm of protest from the public prompts Congress to authorize US$100,000 for the ship’s restoration. First to be removed was the barracks structure on her spar deck, but the limited amount of funds allowed just a partial restoration.
  • By 1907, Constitution begins to serve as a museum ship, with tours offered to the public.
  • On December 1, 1917, she is renamed Old Constitution to free her name for a planned, new Lexington-class battle cruiser.
  • On July 24, 1925, Old Constitution was granted the return of her name after construction of the lead ship of the class the name Constitution was originally destined for got canceled in 1923 due to the Washington Naval Treaty and the incomplete hull was sold for scrap.
  • On February 19, 1924, inspection of her condition by the Board of Inspection and Survey, ordered by Adm. Edward Walter Eberle, Chief of Naval Operations, found her in grave condition.
  • On June 16, 1927, Constitution enters dry dock with a crowd of 10,000 observers.
  • On March 15, 1930, she emerges from dry dock with approximately 85% of the ship “renewed” (i.e. replaced) to make her seaworthy.
  • On July 1, 1931, Constitution is recommissioned under the command of Louis J. Gulliver with a crew of 60 officers and sailors, 15 Marines, and a pet monkey named Rosie that was their mascot.
  • On May 1934, after more than 4.6 million people visited her during the 3-year tour, Constitution returns to her home port of Boston, serving as a museum ship and receiving 100,000 visitors per year.
  • On September 21, 1938, during the New England Hurricane, Constitution breaks loose from her dock and is blown into Boston Harbor where she collides with the destroyer Ralph Talbot. She only suffers minor damage.
  • In 1940, at the request of Pres. Franklin Roosevelt, USS Constellation  and  Constitution  were recommissioned.
  • In early 1941, Constitution is assigned the hull classification symbol IX-21 and begins to serve as a brig for officers awaiting court-martial.
  • In 1947, The United States Postal Service issues a stamp commemorating Constitution
  • In the 1950s, reliable heating for the small maintenance crew who were berthed on the ship was upgraded to a forced-air system and a sprinkler system was added to protect her from fire.
  • In 1954, an Act of Congress makes the Secretary of the Navy responsible for her upkeep.
  • In 1960, Constitution is designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
  • On October 15, 1966, the Constitution is included in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)
  • In 1972, funds were approved for her restoration
  • In April 1973, she enters dry dock remaining until April 1974.
  • In August 1974, as preparations begin for the upcoming United States Bicentennial celebrations. Cmdr. Tyrone G. Martin, who sets the precedent that all construction work on Constitution was to be aimed towards maintaining her to the 1812 configuration for which she is most noted, becomes her captain.
  • In September 1975, her hull classification of IX-21 was officially canceled.
  • On April 8, 1976, the privately run USS Constitution Museum is opened
  • On July 10, 1976, Constitution leads the parade of tall ships up Boston Harbor for Operation Sail, firing her guns at one-minute intervals for the first time in approximately 100 years.
  • On July 11, 1976, she renders a 21-gun salute to Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia, as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrived for a state visit. The royal couple, with Cmdr. Martin and J. William Middendorf (Secretary of the Navy), were piped aboard, privately touring the ship for approximately 30 minutes. Upon their departure, the crew of Constitution rendered three cheers for the Queen.
  • In 1992, Constitution enters dry dock for an inspection and minor repair period, her most comprehensive structural restoration and repair since she was launched in 1797.
  • In 1995, after a US$12 million restoration, she emerges from dry dock.
  • On July 20, 1995, Constitutionwas towed from her usual berth in Boston to an overnight mooring in Marblehead, Massachusetts. En route, she made her first sail in 116 years at a recorded 6 knots (11 kms./hr.; 6.9 mph).
  • On July 21, 1995, she is towed 5 nautical miles (9.3 kms.; 5.8 mi) offshore, where the tow line is dropped and Cmdr. Beck orders 6 sails set (jibs, topsails, and spanker). She then sails for 40 minutes on a south-south-east course with true wind speeds of about 12 knots (22 kms./hr.; 14 mph), attaining a top recorded speed of 4 knots (7.4 kms./hrs.; 4.6 mph). While she is under sail, the guided missile destroyer Ramage and frigate Halyburton, her modern US naval combatant escorts, render passing honors to “Old Ironsides” and she is overflown by the Blue Angels, the US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron. Inbound to her permanent berth at Charlestown, off Fort Independence in Boston Harbor, she is rendered a 21-gun salute to the nation.
  • In November 2007, Lt.-Cmdr. John Scivier of the Royal Navy, commanding officer of HMS Victory, paid a visit to Constitution, touring the local facilities with Cmdr. William A. Bullard III. They discussed arranging an exchange program between the two ships.
  • In November 2010, Constitution emerges from a three-year repair period.
  • On August 19, 2012, the anniversary of her victory over Guerriere, the crew of Constitution, under Cmdr. Matt Bonner (Constitution’s 72nd commanding officer), sails Constitution under her own power.
  • On May 18, 2015, the ship enters Dry Dock 1 in Charlestown Navy Yard  to begin a scheduled 2-year restoration program restore the copper sheets on the ship’s hull and replace additional deck boards.  The Department of the Navy provided the US$12–15 million expected cost.
  • In August 2015, Cmdr. Robert S. Gerosa Jr. (her 74th and current commanding officer) assumes command of Constitution.
  • On July 23, 2017, after the restoration was complete, she was returned to the water.

The Captain’s Cabin

Here are the general characteristics of the Constitution:

  • Tonnage: 1,576
  • Displacement: 2,200 tons
  • Length: 93 m. (304 ft.), bowsprit to spanker; 63 m. (207 ft.), billet head to taffrail; 53 m. (175 ft.) at waterline
  • Beam: 26 m. (43 ft. 6 in.)
  • Height: 60 m. (198 ft.), foremast; 67 m. (220 ft.), mainmast; 52.6 m. (172.5 ft.), mizzenmast.
  • Draft: 6.4 m. (21 ft.), forward; 7.0 m. (23 ft.), aft
  • Depth of Hold: 4.34 m. (14 ft. 3 in.)
  • Decks: OrlopBerthGunSpar
  • Propulsion: Sail (three masts, ship rig)
  • Sail plan: 3,968 m2 (42,710 sq. ft.) on three masts
  • Speed: 24 kms./hr. (13 knots, 15 mph)
  • Boats and landing: 1 × 11 m. (36 ft.) longboat, 2 × 9.1 m. (30 ft.) cutters
  • Craft carried: 2 × 8.5 m. (28 ft.) whaleboats, 1 × 8.5 m. (28 ft.) gig, 1 × 6.7 m. (22 ft.) jolly boat, 1 × 4.3 m. (14 ft.) punt
  • Complement: 450 including 55 Marines and 30 boys (1797)
  • Armament: 30 × 24-pounder(11 kgs.) long gun, 20 × 32-pounder (15 kgs.) carronade, 2 × 24-pounder (11 kgs.) bow chasers[2]

The author emerging from the lower deck

USS Constitution: Building 5, Charlestown Navy Yard,BostonMassachusetts 02129, USA.  Tel: +1 617-799-8198. Open Wednesdays to Sundays, 10AM – 4PM. The ship is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.  Admission: free. Website:  www.navy.mil/local/constitution. Note that all guests aged 18 and older must show a state-issued photo ID (like a driver’s license or passport) at security to board the ship. Guests under age 18 do not require an ID.

How to Get There: The GPS address is 1 Constitution Road, Charlestown. You can drive and park in the Nautica Parking Garage across from the Naval Yard Visitor Center or take the Green Line (to North Station) or Orange Line (to Bunker Hill Community College). MBTA Water Shuttle Route F4 (Long Wharf, Boston to Charlestown Navy Yard, Charlestown)

USS Cassin Young (Boston, Massachusetts, USA)

The author in front of the USS Cassin Young

The USS Cassin Young (DD-793), a Fletcher-class destroyer of the U.S. Navy, is preserved today as a memorial ship, berthed at Boston Navy Yard in Massachusetts, across from the old warship USS Constitution. Visiting this ship seemed like an afterthought before or after seeing the USS Constitution and this ship doesn’t have the historical weight “Old Ironsides.” Still, it had a storied World War II history and it was fun to walk around the well-maintained US Navy destroyer as they have lots of rooms open on the main deck to look in or walk around in. Cassin Young served in World War II (participating in the Battle of Leyte Gulf and the Battle of Okinawa), was decommissioned, but was reactivated during the Korean War and continued in active service until 1960.

Check out “USS Constitution – Old Ironsides

Gangplank leading to the ship’s top deck

Here are some interesting trivia regarding the ship:

National Historic Landmark Plaque

Here’s the historical timeline of the ship:

  • On March 18 1943, the keel of the Cassin Young was laid down byBethlehem SteelSan Pedro, California.
  • On September 12, 1943, the Cassin Young was launched.
  • Sponsored by Mrs. Eleanor Young (widow of her namesake); she was commissioned on December 31, 1943 with Commander T. Schrieber in command.
  • On March 19, 1944, Cassin Young arrived at Pearl Harbor to complete her training before sailing on to Manus, where she joined the massive Fast Carrier Task Force (then called TF 58, at other times called TF 38, depending on whether the overall organization was called 5th Fleet or 3rd Fleet).
  • On April, 28, 1944, TF 58 sortied for air attacks on Japanese strongholds at TrukWoleaiSatawan and Ponape in the Caroline Islands, during which Cassin Young operated as a picket ship, assigned to warn her group of possible enemy counterattack. She returned to Majuro, and then Pearl Harbor for further training.
  • On June 11, 1944, Cassin Young reported to Eniwetok to join the screen of escort carriers assigned to covering duty in the invasion of Saipan four days later. In addition to radar picket and screening duty, she was also called upon for inshore fire support. As the battle for Saipan raged ashore, escort carriers of Cassin Young‘s group launched attacks on the island, as well as sorties to neutralize enemy air fields on TinianRota, and Guam. Similar operations supporting the subsequent assaults on Tinian and Guam claimed the services of Cassin Young.
  • On August, 13, 1944, she returned to Eniwetok to replenish.
  • On August 29, 1944, Cassin Young guards the carriers of Task Group 38.3, which included several aircraft carriers, as strikes were flown from their decks to hit targets on PalauMindanao, and Luzon in support of the assault on the Palaus, stepping-stone to the Philippines.
  • On October 2, 1944, she returns to Ulithi, Caroline Islands
  • On October 6, 1944, Cassin Young sails with the same force on duty in the accelerated schedule for the Philippines assault. First on the schedule were air strikes on Okinawa, Luzon, and Formosa.
  • From October 10 to 13, 1944, during the furious Formosa Air Battle, the Japanese tried to destroy the carrier strength of the imposing TF 38.
  • On October, 14, 1944, the cruiser Reno was struck by a Kamikaze, wounding five of Cassin Young‘s men with machine gun fire. During this attack, Cassin Young aided in shooting down several aircraft.
  • On October 18, 1944, TF 38 took position east of Luzon to launch strikes immobilizing enemy air fields there in preparation for the assault on Leyte two days later.
  • On October 23, 1944, after standing by to render support if called upon during the initial landings, Cassin Young‘s group began to search for the enemy forces known to be moving toward Leyte Gulf
  • On October, 24, 1944,during the most vigorous and successful air attack mounted by the Japanese during the Leyte operation, Cassin Young moved in toward San Bernardino Strait, ready to launch strikes. At 09:38, an enemy bomb struck the aircraft carrier Princeton, and Cassin Young rescued over 120 men from the carrier before that ship sank, then rejoined TG 38.3 for the dash northward to attack the Japanese Northern Force.
  • On October 25, 1944, a series of air strikes during the Battle off Cape Engaño resulted in the sinking of four Japanese carriers and a destroyer. As her carriers continued to range widely, striking at enemy bases on Okinawa, Formosa, and Luzon, Cassin Young continued operations in support of the Leyte conquest.
  • On October 31, 1944, Cmdr. John Ailes III takes over command of the Cassin Young.
  • Through January 1945, with Ulithi as her base, the destroyer screened carriers as their aircraft pounded away at Formosa, Luzon, Cam Ranh Bay (Vietnam), Hong KongCanton and the Nansei Shoto in their support for the assault on Luzon.
  • After a brief overhaul at Ulithi, Cassin Young joined operations supporting the invasion of Iwo Jima with air strikes on Honshū and Okinawa, the bombardment of Parece Vela, and screening off Iwo Jima itself in support of Marine operations during the initial assault on February 19, 1945.
  • On March 22, 1945, after another brief respite at Ulithi, she sailed for her deployment for the Okinawa operation. After screening heavy ships in the massive pre-invasion bombardment, Cassin Young helped “soften up” Okinawa for the upcoming assault on that island, and moving inshore to support the activities of underwater demolition teams preparing the beaches.
  • On April 1, 1945, the destroyer escorted assault craft to the beaches, providing shore bombardment in the assault areas, then took up radar picket duty, providing early warning of impending air attacks to the main fleet, possibly the most hazardous duty performed by any warship during World War II. In the weeks and months ahead, the ships assigned to the 15 picket stations bore the brunt of over 1,500 Kamikaze attacks which the Japanese gambled on in defeating the Okinawa operation. Radar Picket (RP) Stations 1,2 and 3 faced the worst of these attacks.
  • On April, 6, 1945, Cassin Young, on duty at RP Station 3, endured her first Kamikaze attacks as the Japanese launched the first of 10 massed attacks, sending 355 Kamikazes and 341 bombers towards Okinawa.  The ship downed three “bogeys” (enemy planes) and picked up survivors from the nearby destroyers assigned to RP Stations 1 and 2 (both were hit and sunk by Kamikazes).
  • On April, 12, 1945, a massive wave of Kamikazes came in at midday. Cassin Young was then assigned to RP Station 1. Her accurate gunfire had aided in shooting down 5 aircraft, but a sixth crashed high-up into her foremast, exploding in midair only 15 m. (50 ft.) from the ship. Surprisingly only one man was killed but 58 were wounded, many of them seriously. Cassin Young, although damaged, made Kerama Retto under her own power.
  • On May, 31, 1945, after repairs at Kerama Retto and at Ulithi, she returned to Okinawa and resumed radar picket duty.
  • As the Kamikaze attacks continued, Cassin Young had respite only during two brief convoy escort voyages to the Marianas.
  • On July, 28, 1945, her group was again a prime target for the Japanese, with one destroyer sunk and another badly damaged by Kamikazes. During the engagement, Cassin Young assisted in shooting down two enemy aircraft, then rescued 125 survivors from the sunken USS Callaghan.
  • At 3:26 AM on July 29, 1945, just 16 days before Japan surrendered, Cassin Young was struck for the second time, when a low-flying aircraft hit her starboard side of the main deck, near the forward smoke stack, striking her fire control room. A tremendous explosion amidships was followed by fire and the ship lay dead in the water. However, the crew managed contained the damage, restore power to one engine, get the flames under control, and had the ship underway for the safety of Kerama Retto within 20 minutes. Casualties were 22 men dead and 45 wounded.  For her determined service and gallantry in the Okinawa radar picket line she was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation.
  • On August 8, 1945, Cassin Young cleared Okinawa  and headed home for repairs. Arriving home in San Pedro, California, she was fully repaired.
  • On August 29, 1945, Lt.-Cmdr. Carl Pfeifer takes over command of the ship.
  • On May 28, 1946, she was decommissioned and placed the reserve or “mothball” fleet in San Diego.
  • On September 8, 1951, with the outbreak of the Korean Conflict, many destroyers were recalled to service and Cassin Young was recommissioned at Long Beach Naval Shipyard.
  • On January 4, 1952, she cleared San Diego for her new home port, Newport, Rhode Island.
  • In September 1952 she entered Dry Dock #1 in the Charlestown Facility, Boston Navy Yard (beginning her association with this navy yard) for the first of four major overhauls she would undergo in this shipyard. At this time the ship was updated to its current configuration. Two Hedgehog anti-submarine warfare (ASW) launchers and two torpedo carriages for the Mark 32 torpedo were added, with one 21 inch (533 mm.) quintuple torpedo tube mount removed. Also, four 40 mm. Bofors twin mounts were replaced by two quadruple mounts. The forward pole mast was replaced by a tripod mast to accommodate improved radar and electronics systems.
  • On November 21, 1952, Cmdr. Thomas Rudden, Jr. takes over command of the Cassin Young.
  • From May 7 to June 12, 1953, local operations and refresher training in the Caribbean preceded a period of antisubmarine exercises off Florida.
  • From September 16 to November 30, 1953, she had her first tour of duty with the 6th Fleet, initially serving in Atlantic and Mediterranean waters.
  • On May 3, 1954, after another period of local operations and exercises in the Caribbean Sea early in 1954, she cleared Newport for a round-the-world cruise, which included exercises with the 7th Fleet in the western Pacific, patrols off Korea, and good-will visits to Far Eastern and Mediterranean ports.
  • On November 28, 1954, she returned to Newport.
  • On August 17, 1956, Cmdr. Clifton Cates, Jr. takes over command of the Cassin Young.
  • On September 14, 1958, Cmdr. John Hooper takes over as commanding officer of the ship.
  • In 1959, Cassin Young was awarded the Battle Efficiency “E” for overall excellent performances in all exercises that year.
  • From 1954 until 1960, her operations included training exercises in the Caribbean and off the eastern Atlantic seaboard as well as four tours of duty in the Mediterranean in 1956, winter 1956-57, and 1959, and a round of visits to ports of northern Europe in 1958. During those years, the ship returned to the Boston Naval Shipyard five more times for overhauls to keep ahead of the unavoidable problem of old age.
  • On February 6, 1960, she arrived at Norfolk Naval Shipyard to be decommissioned because, during that last overseas deployment, an issue was discovered with her rudder that put her into dry dock in France. At that point the repair costs outweighed retaining the aging ship.
  • On April 29, 1960, Cassin Young was put into long-term storage at the PhiladelphiaNaval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility.
  • On December 1, 1974, she was struck from the Naval Vessel Register. The US Navy has permanently loaned Cassin Young to the National Park Service, to be preserved as a floating memorial ship berthed at the Boston Navy Yard, part of the Boston National Historical Park (BNHP) in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • On June 15, 1978, Cassin Young arrived at Boston Navy Yard
  • In 1981, Cassin Young was opened to the public.
  • In 1986, she was designated as a National Historic Landmark
  • In late July 2010, Cassin Young closed to the public in preparation for dry-docking.
  • On August 9, 2010, she was moved into Historic Dry Dock #1 in BNHP for the first time in 30 years for some much needed repairs to her hull.
  • On September 4, 2012, the ship was closed to the public to allow contractors to make final repairs to the hull.
  • On May 14, 2013, she returned to her position at Pier 1.
  • On June 4, 2013, she was moved to the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina in East Boston while repairs were made to her berth in Charlestown.
  • By September 2013, she had returned to her museum berth.

Jandy in front of a Mark 12 5-inch, 38 caliber gun

Quad-mount 40-mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns

Twin-mount 40-mm. Bofors anti-aircraft guns

Depth charge track

Hedgehog ASW Mortar

Mark 32 torpedo

Here are some specifications of this ship:

  • Displacement :2,050 tons (2,924 full)
  • Length: 114.7 m. (376.4 ft.)
  • Beam: 12.1 m. (39.6 ft.)
  • Draft: 4.2 m. (13.8 ft.)
  • Propulsion: 4 oil-fired boilers, 2 General Electric gearedsteam turbines, 2 shafts, 45,000 kW (60,000 shp)
  • Speed: 67.6 kms./hr. (36.5 knots, 42.0 mph)
  • Range: 12,000 kms. (6,500 nautical miles); 7,500 mile at 15 knots (28 kms/hr.; 17 mph)
  • Complement: 325
  • Armament (as built): 5 x 5 in (127 mm)/38 caliber guns, 5 x twin 40 mm AA guns, 7 x 20 mm AA guns, 2 x quintuple 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, 6 x K-gun depth charge throwers, 2 x depth charge tracks
  • Armanent (as preserved): 5 x 5 in (127 mm)/38 caliber guns, 2 x quad 40 mm AA guns, 1 x twin 40 mm AA guns, 1 x quintuple 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes, 2 x torpedo carriages for the Mark 32 torpedo, 2 x Hedgehog ASW mortar, 1 x depth charge track

Captain’s In Port Cabin

Combat Information Center (CIC)

Officers Wardroom

Radio Room

Sick Bay

USS Cassin Young: 198 3rd St., Pier 1, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts 02129.  Tel: (617) 242-5601.  Admission is free. Free 45-min. guided tours, by a Park Ranger, takes you to the galleys, mess, officers’ quarters, engine room, gun/battery, captain’s cabin, the bridge and the crew quarters, all parts of the ship not accessible without a guide.

USS Constellation Museum (Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.)

USS Constellation with Museum Gallery at left

After our visit to the World War II vintage cutter USCGC Taney, Jandy, Kyle and I walked some distance, from Pier 1, to get to Pier 5 where the museum ship USS Constellation, a sloop-of-war/corvette is berthed, the last of two ships we were to visit using our Squadron Pass. This would our first time to go aboard and explore a three-masted sailing ship.

The author with the USS Constellation in the background

Now a part of Historic Ships in Baltimore, Constellation and her companions are major contributing elements in the Baltimore National Heritage Area.

Check out “The Historic Ships of Baltimore

Exhibit at Museum Gallery

Here are some interesting trivia regarding the Constellation:

  • It had a length of 60.96 m. (200 ft.), a beam width of 13.11 m. (43 ft.), a draft of 6.4 m. (21 ft.), displaced 1,400 lbs. and had a typical operating crew of 285 including a Marine detachment of 45.
  • She was built using some recycled materials salvaged from the old, 38-gun frigate USS Constellation (launched in 1797), which had been disassembled the year before at Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia. She is the second U.S. Navy ship to carry this famous name.
  • In 1955, when the sloop-of-war was brought to Baltimore as a museum ship, it was under the mistaken belief that it was its predecessor, the 1797 frigate Constellation. Over the next four decades, the 1854 ship was “restored” to look like the older ship. In the early 1990s, a US Navy research team, led by Dana Wegner, conclusively proved the ship’s true identity.
  • Despite being a single-gun deck “sloop,” she was actually larger than her original frigate built, and more powerfully armed, with fewer (22) but much more potent shell-firing guns.  On commissioning, she had 16 x VIII-inch shell guns, 4 x 32-pounder guns and 2 x X-inch pivot mounted shell guns. During the American Civil War, she was equipped with 16 x VIII-inch shell Dahlgren guns (primary), 4 x 32-pounder guns (secondary), 1 x 30-pounder pivot mounted Parrott Rifle (bow) and 1 x 20-pounder pivot mounted Parrott Rifle (stern). She also had 3 x 12-pounder bronze howitzers for close-in fighting.
  • Her sail rigging, typical of the time, was set across 3 primary masts.
  • She had a surface speed of 21 knots (14 mph).
  • She is the last existing intact naval vessel, still afloat, from the American Civil War.
  • She was one of the last wind-powered (sail-only) warships built by the United States Navy.
  • She has been assigned the hull classification symbol IX-20.
  • About one-half of the lines used to rig the vessel are present (amounting to several miles of rope and cordage).

Here is the historical timeline of this ship:

  • Designed by John Lenthall, she was constructed at the Norfolk Navy Yard
  • Launched on August 26, 1854 and commissioned on July 28, 1855, with Captain Charles H. Bell in command, the Constellation  performed largely diplomatic duties, from 1855 to 1858, as part of the S. Mediterranean Squadron.
  • On July 1856, while on station, Constellation was dispatched to protect American lives and property at Malaga, Spain, during a revolution in that country.
  • That same year, while cruising in the Sea of Marmora, she rescued a barque in distress, receiving, from the court of the Austrian emperor, an official message in appreciation.
  • From 1859 to 1861, she was the flagship of the 8-ship Africa Squadron, taking part in African Slave Trade Patrol operations to disrupt the Atlantic slave trade. The ship interdicted three slave ships and released the imprisoned Africans.
  • On December 21, 1859, the Constellation captured the  Delicia, a brig fitted out as a slave ship (but with no slaves on board) which was without colors or papers to show her nationality.
  • On September 26, 1860, she captured the Cora, a “fast little bark” with 705 slaves who were set free in Monrovia, Liberia.
  • On May 21, 1861, in African coastal waters, the Constellation overpowered the Charleston-registered Triton, a slaver brig, one of the U.S. Navy’s first captures during the American Civil War.
  • During the Civil War, she spent much of the war in the Mediterranean Sea as a deterrent to Confederate cruisers and commerce raiders.
  • After the Civil War, Constellation spent a number of years as a receiving ship (floating naval barracks) in Norfolk, and later in Philadelphia, until 1869.
  • From March to July 1878, she carried exhibits to the 1878 Exposition Universelle in Paris
  • From March to June 1880, during the 1879 Irish famine, she carried 2,500 barrels of flour and potatoes for famine victims in Ireland.
  • In 1894, after being used as a practice ship for Naval Academy midshipmen, the Constellation became a training ship for Naval Training Center Newport.
  • During World War I, she helped train more than 60,000 recruits.
  • Decommissioned in 1933, the Constellation was recommissioned in 1940, by President Franklin Roosevelt, as a national symbol.
  • During World War II, she remained in Newport, spending much her time as relief (i.e. reserve) flagship for the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. From May 21, 1941, the Constellation was the relief flagship for Ernest J. King and, later, from January 19 to July 20, 1942 and from 1943 to 1944, for his replacement Vice Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll.
  • In October 1946, the Constellation was moved to Boston, where she was kept, together with the venerable USS Constitution, as a naval relic. She remained in commission until 1954.
  • Decommissioned, for the last time, on February 2, 1955, she was moved to Baltimore and taken to her permanent berth.
  • On May 23, 1963, the Constellation was designated as a National Historic Landmark.
  • On October 15, 1966, she was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • In 1994, the Constellation was condemned as an unsafe vessel. Her rigging was removed an she was closed to the public.
  • In 1996, she was towed to a drydock at Sparrows Point, near Fort McHenry, and a US$9 million rebuilding and restoration project was undertaken and completed on July 2, 1999. In an attempt to safeguard the wood planking, the hull from the waterline to the keel was covered in a fiberglass coating and painted an aqua-blue.
  • On October 26, 2004, Constellation made her first trip, since 1955, out of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Lasting six days, the trip to the S. Naval Academy in Annapolis  marked her first trip to Annapolis in 111 years.
  • In late 2012, it was determined the wood hull behind the fiberglass sheathing, installed during the 1996–98 rebuilding, contained significant rotting.
  • From 2014 to 2015, over a 6-month period, the ship was again put in dry dock and rebuilt with fresh (and chemically treated to resist rotting) wood planking.
  • In late March 2015, the rebuilt ship was returned to her Inner Harbor berth and her rigging was completed
  • By May 2015, she was again opened to the public.

Top or spar deck

20 pounder, pivot-mounted Parrott Rifle at the stern

To get aboard, we had to enter the two-storey Museum Gallery Building (where USS Constellation’s history is portrayed through artifacts and personal effects which belonged to the ship’s crew), climb the stairs to the second floor and cross a gangplank to the ship.

Kyle at the gun deck

Jandy beside a VIII-inch Dahlgren gun

Nearly all of the ship was accessible during our tour. We went down to all 4 wooden decks, each one different, and there were plenty of things to see on each.

Ship’s Stove

Galley Provisions

Compared to the USCGC Taney, the Constellation’s stairs leading to the lower decks , though still steep and narrow, were still much easier to go up and down.

Check out “USCGC Taney

Bilge and Fire Pump

Arms Chest

There are plenty of signs and visual aids to explain everything.The male guide, dressed in uniform of the period, was very knowledgeable on the ship’s history.

Captain’s Office

 

Captain’s Stateroom

The top or spar deck, the highest of the continuous decks running the full length (stem to the stern) of a ship, was where all sailing operations took place.  The ship’s wheel, binnaclefife rails, and so forth, are also mounted here. The ship’s sails here were large and quite impressive.

Dining Table

Officers Quarters

The next deck down is the gun deck where the ship’s main battery of VIII-inch Dahlgren guns, the Captain’s Cabin, the Officers Quarters and the Galley are located. The ship’s officers (Executive Officer; Master; Marine Lieutenant; Second, Third, Fourth & Fifth Lieutenants; Chaplain, Paymaster; Surgeon) each had individual living quarters with beds.

Executive Officer’s Quarters

Master’s Quarters

The captain, on the other hand, had a large spacious area to himself, complete with dining table, bath, study, and the only private, old-school toilet on deck (it had a window view).

Second Lieutenant-Navigator’s Quarters

Chaplain’s Quarters

We explored further, going down another flight of steps to reach the berth deck where the majority of the crew  lived and socialized and where their hammocks are slung.

Pantry

Despensary

Going down one more ladder brought us to the ship’s hold where food, water and gear for the crew  was stowed.  The top deck (spar deck) and gun deck are accessible via wheelchair lifts. The headroom on the two lower decks was low.

Stairs leading to Berth Deck

Berth Deck

A trip way back in maritime history, for tall ships it’s hard to beat the Constellation as we saw how the sailors slept (not very comfortable I should imagine as they slept on hammocks with no privacy) and ate on the ship, giving us a real feel at how hard it was to live on a ship back then.

Ship’s Hold

USS Constellation: Pier 1, Constellation Dock, 301 East Pratt St., Inner Harbor, BaltimoreMaryland 21202-3134, United States. Tel: 410-539-1797 (Main Office) and 410-396-3453 (Group Sales/ Education Office).  Fax: 410-539-6238. Open daily, 10 AM – 4:30 PM. E-mail: administration@historicships.org. Website: www.historicships.org. Admission: US$18 (Fleet Pass – 4 ships entry), UUS$15 (Squadron Pass – 2 ships entry). Tickets may be purchased on-line or at ticket locations on Pier 1, Pier 3 or on board the USCGC Taney.

Tours are regularly available, self-guided or with the assistance of staff. Tour groups can participate in demonstrations such as “turning the yards” and operating the capstan on the main deck to raise/lower cargo. Daily, a cannon firing is also demonstrated. Star-Spangled Spectacular visitors, with limited mobility and one companion, may tour the USS Constellation free on September 11, 12, 14 and 15, during her regular scheduled operating hours.

USCGC Taney (Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.)

USCG Cutter Taney

During our tour of The Historic Ships of Baltimore, Jandy, Kyle and I first visited the USCGC Taney, a United States Coast Guard High Endurance Cutter (WPG/WAGC/WHEC-37), one of two of the famed Treasury-class (out of seven total) Coast Guard cutters still afloat.

The author and Kyle at the deck of USCG Cutter Taney

Kyle sitting on the pilot’s deck seat

It is notable for being the last ship afloat (a non-combatant vessel at Pearl Harbor, the US Navy tug Hoga, also remains afloat) that fought in the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor (although Taney was actually moored in nearby Honolulu Harbor not Pearl Harbor itself).

The Pilot’s Room

Log Office

This destroyer-size cutter, named after famed Maryland Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney (who was, at various times, US Attorney GeneralSecretary of the Treasury, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), was 327 ft. long, with a beam of 41 ft., and originally displaced 2000 tons.

Taney at Pearl Harbor Exhibit

Here are some interesting historical trivia regarding this ship’s distinguished career:

  • The Taney was laid on May 1, 1935, at the Philadelphia Navy Yard where she was built alongside three of her sister ships, Campbell, Duane and Ingham.
  • She was launched on June 3, 1936 and commissioned on October 24 that same year. It was first home ported in Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Designed for peacetime missions of law enforcement, search and rescue, and maritime patrol, its original armament consisted of two 5”/51 caliber deck guns, and two 6-pounder saluting guns. It was also originally equipped to carry a Grumman JF-2 “Duck” float plane.
  • In May or June 1937, the Roger B. Taney’s name was shortened to simply Taney.
  • In the pre-war years, Taney she interdicted opium smugglers and carried out search and rescue duties from the Hawaiian Islands through the central Pacific Ocean and made regular cruises to the equatorial Line Islands (Kanton and Enderbury Islands), some 1500 miles southwest of Oahu, to re-supply and support to American colonists there.
  • In 1937, Taney participated in the search for missing aviator Amelia Earhart.
  • In 1940 and 1941, in anticipation of war, she received successive armament upgrades that included an additional 5”/51 caliber gun on the fantail (where her float plane once stood), three 3”/50 caliber dual purpose guns (capable of shooting at both surface and airborne targets), additional .50 caliber machine guns, depth charge racks and throwers, and sonar for locating submarines.
  • On the eve of Pearl Harbor, though she retained her Coast Guard crew, Taney was officially assigned to the US Navy’s Destroyer Division 80.
  • On December 7, 1941, when Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor and other American military installations in Hawaii, she was tied up at Pier 6, Honolulu, where she was able to repeatedly engage Japanese planes which over flew the city. When the attack subsided, it immediately set out to search for Japanese submarines off Pearl Harbor. Although it did not locate any, the ship received the American Defense Service Medal for the crew’s quick and courageous action.
  • From December 1941 until the fall of 1943, Taney operated from the west coast of the US through the Central Pacific, carrying out anti-submarine patrols, convoy escort duties as well as special assignments.
  • In 1942, after the Battle of Midway, she was one of many ships searching for survivors
  • In July 1943, while delivering a US Navy survey party to Baker Island along the Equator, the cutter fought off an attack by a Japanese “Mavis” patrol bomber.
  • In the fall of 1943, after a major refit at Mare Island (during which the ship lost her older 5”/51s and 3”/50s and received four 5”/38 caliber dual purpose guns), Taney was transferred to the Atlantic Theater where she served as Flagship of Task Force 66, US Atlantic Fleet and was the command vessel for six convoys of troop and supply ships between the US and North Africa.
  • On the evening of April 20, 1944, off the coast of North Africa, Taney narrowly dodged several torpedoes while fending off a large scale attack by German Junkers Ju 88and Heinkel He 111 medium bombers against Convoy UGS-38. Three ships were lost in the attack including the ammunition ship SS Paul Hamilton and the destroyer USS Lansdale.
  • In 1945, after a dramatic reconfiguration as an Amphibious Command Ship (AGC), Taney returned to the Pacific.
  • During the Battle of Okinawa, the cutter was the flagship of Rear Admiral Calvin Cobb, USN, who commanded a variety of naval operations off the island of Ie Shima, immediately northwest of Okinawa.
  • During April and May 1945, at the height of the campaign during 119 separate engagements in which her crew stood to battle stations, Taney was under frequent attack and was credited with destroying four Kamikaze suicide planes and 1 Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” bomber and assisted in numerous other “kills.”
  • Immediately after the end of the Pacific war, on September 11, 1945, Taney steamed into Japanese home waters at Wakayama, where it received American and other Allied prisoners-of-war and assisted with their evacuation.
  • During the Korean War, Taney received additional anti-submarine weapons and frequently carried out plane-guard duties off Midway Island and Adak, Alaska.
  • Following World War II, Taney was reconfigured for peacetime duties and, from 1946 until 1972, she was home ported in Alameda, California. Known as “The Queen of the Pacific,” she carried out virtually every peacetime Coast Guard duty including decades of Ocean Weather Patrol throughout the Pacific, fisheries patrols in the Bearing Sea and countless search and rescue missions.
  • On April 27, 1960, Taney had the honor to host French President Charles de Gaulle on his VIP tour of San Francisco Bay.
  • By the late 1960s, Taney had become the last United States vessel still in commission that had seen action during the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Hawaii. Consequently, from that time on, she was often referred to as “The Last Survivor of Pearl Harbor.”
  • In 1969-70, during the Vietnam War, Taney participated in “Operation Market Time” in the South China Sea. As a unit of Coast Guard Squadron III, she interdicted illegal arms and supplies by inspecting 1,000 vessels along the coast of South Vietnam, fired over 3,400 rounds of 5”/38 ammunition, in support of American and South Vietnamese troops, and provided medical assistance to more than 5,000 Vietnamese civilians. For the crew’s service, the government of the Republic of South Vietnam awarded, in February 1970, Taney with the Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation.
  • In February 1972, Taney was reassigned, from the 12th Coast Guard District in San Francisco, to the 5th Coast Guard District in Virginia.
  • From 1973 to 1977, Taney carried out Ocean Weather Patrol at Weather Station HOTEL, some 200 miles off the coast of New Jersey, as well as “hurricane hunting” (for which she received a special Doppler weather radar installation atop her pilot house).
  • In September 1977, Taney had the distinction of completing the Coast Guard’s last ocean weather patrol when she closed out Ocean Weather Station HOTEL.
  • From 1977 until 1986, Taney carried out search and rescue duties, fisheries patrols in the North Atlantic, drug interdiction patrols in the Caribbean, and summer training cruises for the Coast Guard Academy. During this period she made 11 major seizures of illegal drug including a 1985 bust which netted 160 tons of marijuana – the largest in US history.

Operation Market Time Exhibit

Over her distinguished career, Taney received three battle stars for World War II service and numerous theater ribbons for service in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War.

National Historic Landmark Plaque

After more than 50 years of service, Taney was decommissioned on December 7, 1986 at Portsmouth, Virginia and given to the City of Baltimore, Maryland as a memorial and museum ship in the Inner Harbor as part of the Historic Ships in Baltimore collection.

Check out “The Historic Ships of Baltimore

Ammunition Hoist

Radio Room

In 1988, USCGC  Taney was added to the National Register of Historic Places and, on the same day, was also designated as a National Historic Landmark. Taney is included in the Baltimore National Heritage Area.

Galley

Common Mess Area

During our tour, much of the ship was open to walk through.  We explored both below decks and up to the bridge. Upon close inspection, this museum ship is not exactly a World War II time capsule like USS Missouri and other veteran ships.

Sickbay

Throughout her life, she had been modernized and her spaces are more typical of a naval ship of the 1980s, the decade when she was decommissioned, rather than the 1940s.

Crew Berthing Area

Items of circa 1986 shipboard life include personal items and clothing in living quarters, offices with cabinets and typewriters, an ammunition room still loaded with training rounds, and stocked damage control lockers.

Soogie, the ship’s mascot dog

Crew’s Head

Some spaces have been repurposed for museum exhibits that focused on events the ship played a role (Pearl Harbor, Okinawa, Vietnam War, etc.).

Ship’s Store

Barber shop

USCGC Taney: Pier 5, Baltimore Maritime Museum, 301 East Pratt St., Baltimore, Maryland  21202-3134, United States.  Open spring, summer and fall Sundays-Thursdays, 10 AM to 5:30 PM; Fridays & Saturdays, 10AM to 6:30 PM. During the winter, it is open Fridays-Sundays only: 10:30 AM to 5 PM. Tel: 410-396-3453. E-mail: administration@historicships.org. Website: www.historicships.org. Admission: US$18 (Fleet Pass – 4 ships entry), UUS$15 (Squadron Pass – 2 ships entry). Tickets may be purchased on-line or at ticket locations on Pier 1, Pier 3 or on board the USCGC Taney.

How to Get There:  The Inner Harbor is accessible by bus, light rail, and metro subway (one-way rides are US$1.60). The light rail station closest to the ship is located at the Convention Center on Pratt Street (nine blocks west of the harbor). The closest metro station is Market Place at Power Plant Live (three blocks north and two blocks east of the submarine). There are also several bus routes that serve the Inner Harbor.

The Historic Ships of Baltimore (Maryland, U.S.A.)

The Historic Ships of Baltimore

One of the highlights during our 2-night stay in Baltimore was our visit to The Historic Ships of Baltimore, a maritime museum located in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, an opportunity too good to miss for a nautical buff. An affiliate of the Living Classrooms Foundation,  it represents one of the most impressive collections of military vessels in the world.  Exhibiting life at sea, from the mid-19th century to the mid-1980’s, it was created as a result of the merger of the USS Constellation Museum and the Baltimore Maritime Museum.

Jandy posing with the World War II submarine USS Torsk in the background

The museum’s collection, all located within easy walking distance of each other, features four historic and well-maintained museum ships from four different times in history.  The USS Constellation, a 1854 sloop-of-war in Pier 1, was the last all-sail warship built by the US Navy.

Check out “USS Constellation Museum

USCG Cutter Taney

The USCGC Taney (WHEC-37), a Coast Guard cutter in Pier 5, is the last surviving vessel to witness the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  The USS Torsk (SS-423), a World War II-era, Trench-class (one of 10) submarine in Pier 3 commissioned in 1940, torpedoed the Coast Defense Vessels #13 and #47 on August 14, 1945, the last two enemy combatants of World War II.  The Chesapeake, a lightship (which marked the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay) in Pier 3 built in 1930, was a navigational aid with beacons mounted on it.

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The author posing with the lightship Chesapeake in the background

Also included in the collection is the 40 ft. high Seven Foot Knoll Light, a screw-pile lighthouse in Pier 5 built in 1856. One of the oldest Chesapeake Bay area lighthouses, it was erected at the mouth of the Patapso River, on a shallow shoal called the Seven Foot Knoll. For over 130 years, it marked the entrance to the Patapsco River and Baltimore Harbor. The three ships (USS Constellation, USCGC Taney and the USS Torsk) are National Historic Landmarks and all five are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Seven Foot Knoll Light

Jandy, Kyle and I availed of the Squadron Pass and visited the USCGC Taney and the USS Constellation (by far, our favorite). Our interesting and educational visit gave us a good overview of different parts of the nautical world and of Baltimore’s heritage as a major seaport.  Both ships were amazing to walk through as they had much of their original furnishings (like uniforms, desks, etc) for effect (where needed, accurate replicas where made).

Jandy with the American Civil War-era sloop-of-war USS Constellation in the background

Historic Ships in Baltimore: 301 East Pratt St., Baltimore, Maryland  21202-3134, United States. Tel: 410-539-1797 (Main Office) and 410-396-3453 (Group Sales/ Education Office).  Fax: 410-539-6238. Open daily, 10 AM – 4:30 PM. E-mail: administration@historicships.org. Website: www.historicships.org. Admission: US$18 (Fleet Pass – 4 ships entry), UUS$15 (Squadron Pass – 2 ships entry). Tickets may be purchased on-line or at ticket locations on Pier 1, Pier 3 or on board the USCGC Taney. Admission is free at the Seven Foot Knoll Light.

The Moshulu (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

Moshulu

After our visit to the Independence Seaport Museum and the museum ships USS Olympia and USS Becuna, Jandy and I, our curiosity piqued, hopped over to the adjacent Moshulu which was also docked at Penn’s Landing.  We discovered it was a floating restaurant and, as it wasn’t officially opened yet (it opens at 5 PM), asked permission if we could explore this  four-masted steel barque, a first for both of us.

Check out “Independence Seaport Museum,” “Independence Seaport Museum – USS Olympia” and “Independence Seaport Museum – USS Becuna

We weren’t here to try out its food but the Moshulu’s dining rooms and outdoor decks do take full advantage of the unparalleled views of the city skyline and waterfront.

The author at the upper deck of the Moshulu

Jandy

Here are some interesting trivia regarding this ship:

  • The Moshulu is the largest remaining original windjammer in the world. Whilst windjammers exist and sail the seas to this day, the last windjammer carrying cargo was the Peruvian Omega (ex Drumcliff) which was in use until her loss in 1958.
  • She was built by William Hamilton and Company, on the River Clyde in Scotland and, along with her sister ship Hans, was one of the last four-masted steel barques to be built on the river (Archibald Russell was launched in 1905).
  • Moshulu is the world’s oldest and largest square rigged sailing vessel still afloat.
  • She is the only restaurant venue on a tall ship in the world.
  • The Moshulu was originally named Kurtafter Dr. Kurt Siemers, director-general and president of H. J. Siemers & Co, a Hamburg shipping company.
  • She was built at a cost of £36,000.
  • The Moshulu was built for G. H. J. Siemers & Co. and originally used in the nitrate
  • Moshulu was made famous by the books of famous travel writer  Eric Newby who, at the age of 18, was apprenticed aboard the Moshulu, joining the ship in Belfast in 1938. The journey was documented in Newby’s books The Last Grain Race (1956, refers to the last grain race before the outbreak of World War II) and Learning the Ropes: An Apprentice in the Last of the Windjammers (1999, contains more than 150 of the photographs Newby took while aboard).
  • Moshulu’s route to Australia took her around Cape Horn a remarkable 54 times without incident.
  • On June 10, 1939, Moshulu wins the very last race of square-rigged sailing ships between Australia and Europe while carrying 59,000 bags of grain, weighing 4875 tons with a record speed of 16 knots in 91 days (15,000 miles) from Australia to Queenstown Cobh Ireland, a faster passage than that of any of the other sailing ships making similar passages that year.
  • Its restaurant has gained recognition as an award winning, AAA 4 Diamond rated Restaurant, Bar and Deck.

The Moshulu had the following general characteristics:

  • Length: 121 m. (396 ft., overall), 109 m. (359 ft., on deck), 102.2 m. (33.5.3 ft., between perpendiculars)
  • Beam: 14.3 m. (46.9 ft.)
  • Height: 65 m. (212 ft., keel to masthead truck), 56 m. (185 ft., main deck to masthead truck)
  • Draft: 7.4 m. (24.3 ft.) at 5,300 tons
  • Depth: 8.5 m. (28 ft., depth molded)
  • Depth of Hold: 8.1 m. (26.6 ft.)
  • Displacement: 7,000 ts (1,700 ts ship + 5,300 ts cargo)
  • Sail Plan: 180 m²; 34 sails: 18 square sails, 3 spankers, 13 staysails
  • Depths: 2 continuous steel decks, poop, midship bridge and forecastle decks
  • Installed Power: no auxiliary propulsion; donkey enginefor sail winches, steam rudder
  • Propulsion: wind
  • Highest Recorded Speed: 17 knots(31 kms./hr.)
  • Complement: 35 crew (maximum)
  • Crew: 33 (captain, 1st & 2nd mate, 1 steward, 29 able seamen)[
  • Boats & landing craft carried: 4 lifeboats

Here’s a timeline of the ship’s history:

  • On April 18, 1904, the Kurt was launched with Captain Christian Schütt as her first master.
  • Between 1904 and 1914, under German ownership, Kurt shipped coal from Wales to South America, nitrate from Chile to Germany, coal from Australia to Chile, and coke and patent fuel from Germany to Santa RosalíaMexico.
  • In 1908, under the command of Captain Wolfgang H. G. Tönissen, she made a fast voyage from Newcastle, Australia, to Valparaíso with a cargo of coal in 31 days.
  • In 1914, upon the outbreak of World War I, Kurt was sailed to Oregon, under the command of Captain Tönissen, then laid up in Astoria.
  • In 1917, when the United States entered the war, she was seized as prize booty, kept in commission and  temporarily renamed the Dreadnought (“one who fears nothing”) but, as there was already a sailing ship of that name registered in the US, she was renamed the Moshulu (which had the same meaning in the Seneca language) by Edith Wilson, the First Lady of the United States and wife of President Woodrow Wilson (who was of Indian extraction herself).
  • Between 1917 and 1920, Moshulu was owned by the U.S. Shipping Board and carried wool and chrome between North America, Manila and Australia.
  • From 1920 to 1922, it was owned by the Moshulu Navigation Co. (Charles Nelson & Co., a lumber firm) of San Francisco
  • In 1922, Moshulu was sold to James Tyson of San Francisco and, that same year, was repurchased by Charles Nelson.
  • From 1920 to 1928, the big four-masted barque ran in the timber trade along the U.S. west coast to Australia and South Africa.
  • In 1928, after her last timber run to Melbourne and Geelong, Australia, Moshulu was laid up in Los Angeles.
  • Later on, she was kept in places in or near SeattleWashingtonLake Union, Winslow on (Puget Sound), and Esquimaltin British ColumbiaCanada 190 kms. (100 nautical miles) northwest of Seattle.
  • In 1935, the Moshulu was bought for $12,000 by Gustaf Erikson of Finland, a successful ship owner of 25 vessels, 11 four-masted barque windjammers, who had found profits in bringing grain from Australia.
  • On March 14, 1935, when the contract was signed, Captain Gunnar Boman took over the ship and sailed Moshulu to Port Victoria. Gustaf Erikson had her operate in the grain trade from Australia to Europe. During the period of Erikson ownership the working language of the ship was Swedish, even though it sailed under the Finnish flag. The ship’s home port at the time, Mariehamn, is in the Swedish-speaking Åland Islandsof Finland.
  • At the end of 1938, the ship left Belfast, under the command of Captain Mikael Sjögren, sailing to Port Lincoln, in South Australia, with a load of ballast stone, arriving there in 82 days, a good passage for a windjammer. In Port Victoria, Moshulu took 4,875 tons of bagged grain on board and began her return voyage to Ireland. She had a crew of 33, which included two Americans, J. Ferrell Colton of Molokai, Hawaii (publisher of “Windjammer Significant”) and John W. Albright of Long Beach, California (who would become a square rigged ship captain himself).
  • On June 10, 1939, Moshulu arrives in Queenstown (Cobh, Ireland) winning the very last race of square-rigged sailing ships between Australia and Europe.
  • In November 1942, when she returned to KristiansandNorway, again under the command of Captain Mikael Sjögren and with a cargo of wheat from Buenos Aires, the ship was seized by the Germans and, step-by-step, stripped of her mast and spars.
  • in 1947, after breaking her mooring and capsizing in a storm close to shore at a beach in Østervik near Narvik,  she was demasted by a salvaging company
  • On July 1948, she was re-erected, stabilized and towed to Bergen. The ship’s hull was sold to Trygve Sommerfeldt of Oslo.
  • A few months later, the ship was transferred to Sweden
  • From 1948 to 1952, she was used as a grain store in Stockholm.
  • She was then sold to the German ship owner Heinz Schliewen, who wanted to put her back to use under the name Oplagas, a merchant marine training ship carrying cargo. Schliewen already used the four-masted steel barques Pamir and Passat (both former Flying P-Liners) for that purpose, but before Moshulu was re-rigged, Schliewen went into bankruptcy.
  • In 1953 Moshulu was sold to the Swedish Farmers’ State Union (Svenska Lantmännens Riksförbund) of Stockholm
  • Beginning on November 16, 1953, she was used as a floating warehouse.
  • In 1961, the FinnishState Granary bought the ship for 3,200 tons of Russian rye.  She was towed to a small and picturesque bay in Naantali, a town near Turku, and she continued to be used as a grain warehouse.
  • In 1970, the ship was bought by David Tallichet of the American Specialty Restaurants Corporation, who rigged her out in Scheveningen, Netherlands with machine (not hand) welded masts, yards, standing rigging and lines, of lighter materials. Other sources have it that The Walt Disney Company bought the ship but soon transferred it to the American “Specialty Restaurants Corporation.”
  • In 1974, she was towed to South Street Seaport, New York City.
  • In 1975, the Moshulu was opened as a restaurant
  • In 1989, the she closed after being damaged by a four-alarm fire.
  • In 1994, the Moshulu was purchased by HMS Ventures, Inc. and, under Mrs. Dodo Hamilton of the Campbell’s Soup family, was painstakingly restored in Camden to her original glory
  • In 1996, it was docked at Pier 34 on Philadelphia’s waterfront and opened as a restaurant on the Delaware River.
  • In 2002, the Moshulu was relocated to its current location under restaurateur Martin Grims.
  • On May 2003, its current owners, SCC Restaurants LLC, reopened the restaurant. 

Reception

The Moshulu was featured in the following movies:

  • Rocky(during one of Rocky’s workout sessions along the waterfront)
  • The Godfather Part II(seen as the young Vito Corleone (Andolini) arrives in New York in 1901, two years before it was built)
  • The end scene of the movie Blow Out.

Moshulu: Penn’s Landing, 401 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106 (Click here for map). Tel: 215.923.2500. Fax: 215.829.1604.  E-mail: info@moshulu.com.  Website: www.moshulu.com. Open Mondays– Thursdays, 5 to 9 PM; Fridays & Saturdays, 5 to 10PM; Sundays 10AM to 2:30PM and 5 to 9PM.

Independence Seaport Museum – USS Becuna (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

USS Becuna

After exploring the exhibits of the Independence Seaport Museum, Jandy and I went out to the waterfront and boarded the World War II/Cold War submarine USS Becuna, anchored next to Admiral George Dewey‘s flagship the USS Olympia, to check the innards of the submarine, a first for both of us, and get a glimpse of all aspects of a submariner’s life.

Check out “Independence Seaport Museum – USS Olympia

National Historic Landmark Plaque

Jandy at the conning tower

Both boats are very good static displays and kept in pretty good condition. The USS Becuna (SS/AGSS-319), a Balao-class diesel-electric submarine of the United States Navy nicknamed “Becky,” was named for the becuna, a pike-like fish of Europe.

Forward Engine Room

Forward Torpedo Room

The author at the crew’s berthing area

Exploring the full length of the sub, from stem to stern, requires going into tight spaces (the small hatches, requiring a degree of flexibility, could be tough to maneuver through) and using ladders and steps, so it not a good attraction for those needing accessibility as well as those who are extremely claustrophobic.

After Engine Room

Control Room

Maneuvering Room

You can rush through the tour in only a few minutes but, if you take the time, you can spend the time looking at all of the pipes wires and valves and really feel what it was like to live and work in the extremely tight quarters on this sub.

Captain’s Stateroom

Chief Petty Officer’s Stateroom

The Captain’s stateroom was tiny. We weren’t able to see the conning tower and periscopes as it’s only included in the highly recommended “Behind the Scenes” tour which we were too late for.

Junior Officer’s Stateroom

Senior Officers Quarters

Officers’ Wardroom

Here’s the timeline of the submarine’s operational history:

  • On April 10, 1942, the order to build submarine Becuna was issued.
  • On April 29, 1942, the keel of submarine is laid down
  • On January 30, 1944, she was launched by Electric Boat Company (Groton, Connecticut) and sponsored by Mrs. George C. Crawford, wife of Cmdr. George C. Crawford.
  • On May 27, 1944, The USS Becuna (SS-319) was commissioned with Lt.-Cmdr. H. D. Sturr in command.
  • On July 1, 1944, she departs New London, Connecticut
  • On July 7, 1944, the USS Becuna detects a hostile submarine in the Atlantic Ocean and fires four torpedoes at the target; all torpedoes missed and contact with the enemy submarine was lost.
  • On July 27, 1944, she arrives at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii
  • On August 23, 1944, the USS Becuna departs Pearl Harbor for her first war patrol
  • On September 1, 1944, she comes across a Japanese soldier in a small boat. After taking the soldier prisoner, she sinks the boat with machine gun fire.
  • On September 24, 1944, she fires three torpedoes at a Japanese transport in the Luzon Strait south of Taiwan but all torpedoes miss.
  • On September 25, 1944, the USS Becuna fires three torpedoes at a Japanese destroyer in the Luzon Strait south of Taiwan but all torpedoes miss.
  • On October 8, 1944, she damages the Japanese tanker Kimikawa Maru in the South China Sea with two of four torpedoes fired.
  • On October 9, 1944, the USS Becuna attacks a Japanese convoy in the South China Sea, claiming two sunk and two damaged; ten torpedoes were expended, seven of them made contact.
  • On November 16, 1944, she departs Fremantle, Australia for her second war patrol.
  • On November 17, 1944, the USS Becuna damages four Japanese ships – the tanker San Luis Maru, tanker Tokuwa Maru, a transport and cargo ship.
  • On January 2, 1945, she sinks two small vessels between Malaya and Borneo in two separate engagements with her deck gun.
  • On February 22, 1945, the USS Becuna fires ten torpedoes at a Japanese convoy in the South China Sea, with one torpedo making contact and sinking the Japanese tanker Nichiyoko Maru.
  • On May 22, 1945, she departs for her fourth war patrol, on lifeguard station for carrier air crews.
  • On June 21, 1945, USS Becuna departs for her fifth war patrol.
  • On July 15, 1945, she attacks a Japanese Otori-class torpedo boat without effect.
  • On July 27, 1945, the submarine arrives at Subic BayLuzon
  • On September 22, 1945, she arrives at San Diego, California and is assigned to the Submarine Force of the US Navy Pacific Fleet.
  • On May 6, 1947, the USS Becuna enters Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California, United States, for a scheduled overhaul.
  • On September 22, 1947, she completes her scheduled overhaul.
  • On April 1949, she is ordered to Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet, as a unit of Submarine Squadron 8.
  • Between May 1949 and May 1950, she conducts refresher training exercises and also assisted in training of student officers and men at New London, Connecticut.
  • In November 1950, she returned to Electric Boat Co. for a complete modernization overhaul, being refitted as a GUPPY-type submarine, with sophisticated radar and torpedo equipment including nuclear warheads.
  • On August 1951, the submarine’s overhaul is completed and the Becuna sails to the Caribbean for post-modernization shakedown.
  • On September 1951, she returns to New London. Becunaoperates with the Atlantic Fleet trailing Soviet submarines with eavesdropping equipment aboard, making two cruises with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean and one to Scotland. Other than these extended cruises, the majority of Becuna‘s service was at New London as a training submarine.
  • In 1969, she is reclassified as an Auxiliary Submarine, AGSS-319.
  • On November 7, 1969, the Becunais decommissioned and laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
  • In 1971, she reverts to SS-319
  • On August 15, 1973, she was struck from the Naval Register
  • On June 21, 1976, the Becuna was placed on permanent display adjacent to the cruiser USS Olympia (C-6) at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia.
  • On August 29, 1986, she was designated a National Historic Landmark for her service in World War II for which she received four battle stars.
  • On January 1, 1996, she becomes a museum ship at the Historic Ship Zone of the Independence Seaport Museum.
  • In 2001, Becuna receives the Historical Welded Structure Award of the American Welding Society.

Crew’s Mess

Crew’s Washroom

Main Galley

Here are some specifications of this ship:

  • Displacement: 1,500 long tons (1,500 t) surfaced, 2,080 long tons (2,110 t) submerged
  • Length: 95.02 m. (311 t., 9 in.)
  • Beam: 8.31 m. (27 ft., 3 in.)
  • Draft: 5.13 m. (16 ft., 10 in.) maximum
  • Propulsion: 4 × General MotorsModel 16-278A V16 diesel engines driving electrical generators, 2 × 126-cell Sargo batteries, 4 × high-speed General Electric electric motors with reduction gears, two propellers, 5,400 shp (4.0 MW) surfaced, 2,740 shp (2.0 MW) submerged.
  • Speed: 38 kms./hour (20.25 knots) surfaced, 16 kms./hour (8.75 knots) submerged
  • Range: 20,000 kms. (11,000 nautical miles) surfaced at 19 kms./hour (10 knots)
  • Endurance: 48 hours at 3.7 kms./hour (2 knots) submerged, 75 days on patrol
  • Test depth: 120 m. (400 ft.)
  • Complement: 8 commissioned officers, 5 chief petty officers, 67 enlisted men
  • Armament: 24 torpedoes, 10 × 533 mm. (21 in.) torpedo tubes (6 forward, 4 aft), 1 × 127 mm. (5 in.)/ 25 caliber deck gun, Bofors 40 mm. and Oerlikon 20 mm. cannon.

Yeoman’s Shack

Pump Room

Radio Room

Independence Seaport Museum: 211 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106, U.S.A.  Tel: +1 215-413-8655. Website: www.phillyseaport.org.  Open daily, 10 AM – 5 PM. Closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day but open on New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day (January 15) and President’s Day (February 19). Admission: US$16 (adults), US$12 (seniors, 65 & over), US$12 (children, 3–12 years old), free for college students, military (active & retired) and children 2 years old & under. Seafarin’ Saturday and Citizen Science Lab programming are included with regular admission. Group visits are available at reduced rates for a minimum of ten people. Reservations must be made in advance.

Independence Seaport Museum – USS Olympia (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

USS Olympia

After exploring the USS Becuna, Jandy and I now went out and boarded the USS Olympia (C-6/CA-15/CL-15/IX-40), a protected cruiser famous, during the Spanish–American War, as the flagship of Commodore George Dewey at the May 1, 1898 Battle of Manila Bay.  There was a semi-permanent exhibit opened last June 16, 2017, featuring the Olympia, entitled “World War I USS Olympia.” to commemorate the World War I centennial. The World War I USS Olympia exhibit highlights the Ship’s humanitarian and peace-keeping role in World War I Europe. The exhibit also explores the everyday life of sailors aboard the ship, as well as, the Olympia’s final mission of transporting the remains of the Unknown Soldier from France to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC.

The author at the upper deck

Turret of two 8 in. (203 mm.) 35 cal. Mark 4 guns

The design of the interior of the USS Olympia was not that far off from the old sailing ships of the line, with an enormous amount of deeply polished wood at the sumptuous officer’s quarters (called the “Officers’ Country).  The beautifully paneled staterooms of the officers contrasts with the tiny hammocks of the enlisted men.

Beautifully paneled Officers Berth Deck (Officer’s Country)

Hammocks of the enlisted men

Before the USS Olympia retired in 1922, most of its original guns were removed in refits but, amazingly, one of the original guns survives today, a 6-pounder forward on the port side.The captain’s cabin also mounted a gun. 

Stateroom and cabin of Commodore George Dewey. At left can be seen the muzzle of a 5-inch gun

The Commodore’s bathroom

Voice pipes lead from the bridge to various stations, including the emergency steering – a triple-wheel made of wood, out on deck towards the stern.

Jandy manning the ship’s emergency steering

Ammunition hoists, sitting close by coal chutes and ash hoists, look like china cabinets. It’s an amazing step back into history.  All throughout, great signs describe life on the ship and its history. We weren’t able to see the engine room (to see the big old steam engines, the giant crankshaft and connecting rods and the cramped boiler room) as it’s only included in the highly recommended “Behind the Scenes” tour which the we were too late for.

Officer’s Quarters

Junior Officers’ Mess

Here are some interesting trivia regarding this ship:

  • She saw service in the United States Navy from her commissioning in 1895 until 1922.
  • She was twice decommissioned and recommissioned.
  • For several months after her commissioning, she was the largest ship ever built on the western coast of the US, until surpassed by the battleship Oregon.
  • Admiral George Dewey and Olympia became famous as the first victors of the Spanish-American War.
  • She is the sole floating survivor of the US Navy’s Spanish–American War fleet.
  • Olympiais the oldest steel US warship still afloat in the world.
  • She is the sole survivor of the U.S naval shipbuilding program from the 1880s and 1890s and the only surviving pre-dreadnaught protected cruiser in the world.
  • It is one of only four warships representative of the time period that exist worldwide.

Officers Dining Room

Here is the timeline of the ship’s history:

  • In 1889, the newly formed Board on the Design of Ships began the design process for Cruiser Number 6
  • On April 8, 1890, the navy solicited bids but found only one bidder, the Union Iron Worksin San Francisco, California.
  • On July 10, 1890, the contract was signed
  • On June 17, 1891, the ship’s keel was laid
  • On November 5, 1892, the ship was launched.
  • On November 3, 1893, Union Iron Works conducted the first round of trials.
  • On December 1893, she was dispatched from San Francisco to Santa Barbara
  • On December 15, 1893, Olympia sailed into the Santa Barbara Channel and began an official four-hour speed trial time.
  • On February 5, 1895, the new cruiser was ultimately commissioned.
  • Upon commissioning, Olympia departed the Union Iron Works yard in San Francisco and steamed inland to the U.S. Navy’s Mare Island Naval Shipyard at Vallejo, where outfitting was completed and Captain John J. Read was placed in command.
  • In April 1895, the ship steamed south, to Santa Barbara, to participate in a festival. That same month, the ship’s crew also conducted landing drills in Sausalito and Santa Cruz.
  • On April 20, 1895, the ship conducted its first gunnery practice, during which one of the ship’s gunners, Coxswain John Johnson, was killed in an accident with one of the 5-inch guns
  • On July 27, 1895, the ship starts its last shakedown cruise
  • On August 25, 1895, the ship departed the United States for Chinese waters.
  • A week later, the ship arrived in Hawaii, where she remained until October 23 due to an outbreak of cholera. The ship then sailed for Yokohama, Japan
  • On November 9, 1895, the ship arrives in Yokohama.
  • On November 15, 1895, the Baltimore arrives in Yokohama, from Shanghai, China, to transfer command of the Asiatic Squadron to Olympia.  She was designated as the flagship.
  • On December 18, 1895, Rear Admiral F.V. McNair arrives to take command of the squadron.
  • The following two years, the ship joined training exercises with the other members of the Asiatic Squadron as well as goodwill visits to various ports in Asia, notably Hongkong and Kobe and Nagasaki in Japan.
  • On January 3, 1898, Commodore George Dewey raised his flag on Olympia and assumed command of the squadron.
  • On April 25, 1898, the Spanish-American War began and Dewey moved his ships to Mirs Bay, China.
  • On April 27, 1898, the Navy Department ordered the Squadron to Manila in the Philippines, where a significant Spanish naval force protected the harbor. Dewey was ordered to sink or capture the Spanish warships, opening the way for a subsequent conquest by US forces.
  • On the morning of May 1, 1898, Commodore Dewey, with his flag aboard Olympia, steamed his ships into Manila Bay to confront the Spanish flotilla commanded by Rear Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón.  At approximately 05:40, Dewey instructed Olympia‘s captain, “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.” Newly assigned Capt. Charles Vernon Gridley ordered the forward 8-inch gun turret, commanded by Gunners Mate Adolph Nilsson, to open fire, which opened the battle and prompted the other American warships to begin firing. By early afternoon, Dewey had completed the destruction of Montojo’s squadron and the shore batteries, while his own ships were largely undamaged. Dewey anchored his ships off Manila and accepted the surrender of the city. Olympia remained in the area and supported the American expeditionary force by shelling Spanish forces on land.
  • On May 20, 1898, the ship returned to the Chinese coast, remaining there until the following month, when she departed for the US, via the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • On October 10, 1898, the ship arrived in Boston. Following Olympia‘s return to the US, her officers and crew were feted and she was herself repainted and adorned with a gilded bow ornament.
  • On November 9, 1898, Olympia was decommissioned and placed in reserve.
  • On January 2, 1902, the Olympia was recommissioned into the fleet and assigned to the North Atlantic Squadron. Her first duty was to serve as the flagship of the Caribbean Division.
  • Over the following four years, the ship patrolled the Atlantic and Mediterranean, her voyages including a visit to Turkey.
  • In March through April 1903, she and four other U.S. Navy warships were involved in an intervention in Honduras.
  • Starting on April 2, 1906, she became a training ship for midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy. In this role, she conducted three summer training cruises – May 15 – August 26, 1907, June 1 – September 1, 1908 and May 14 – August 28, 1909. Between the cruises, the ship was placed in reserve, first in Norfolk, Virginia and later at Annapolis, Maryland.
  • On March 6, 1912, Olympia arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, serving as a barracks ship until 1916.
  • In late 1916, when it became increasingly clear that the US would eventually enter World War I, the ship was recommissioned into the fleet.
  • After the U.S. entered the First World War by declaring war on Germany in April 1917, Olympia was mobilized as the flagship of the U.S. Patrol Force. She was tasked with patrolling the eastern seaboard of the US for German warships. She also escorted transport ships in the North Atlantic.
  • On June 15, 1917, she ran aground in Long Island Sound, and put in for repairs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which, along with the replacement of her 8-inch and 5″/40-caliber guns with 5″/51-caliber guns, took eight months.
  • On April 28, 1918, Olympiadeparted Charleston, carrying an expeditionary force bound for Russia which had previously been a member of the Allied Powers but was in the midst of civil war and had signed a separate peace with Germany.
  • On June 9, 1918, Olympia arrived in Murmansk, Russia, and deployed the peace-keeping force. She subsequently assisted in the occupation of Archangel.
  • After World War I, participated in the 1919 Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War and conducted cruises in the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas to promote peace in the unstable Balkan countries.
  • After the end of the war, Olympia sailed to the Mediterranean via Portsmouth, England.
  • On December 1918, the ship became the flagship for American naval forces stationed in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. While on this assignment, she continued in her old role of showing the flag and conducting goodwill visits in various Mediterranean ports. This included a period of policing duty in the Adriatic Sea from January 21 to October 25, 1919 (the Dalmatian coast was in a state of turmoil following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of the war).
  • On August 18, 1918, she steamed to the Black Sea to aid the return of refugees from the Balkans who had fled during the war.
  • By September 19, 1918, she was back in the Adriatic and four days later had to deploy a landing party to prevent an incident between Italian and Yugoslav forces.
  • On November 24, 1919, Olympia briefly returned to Charleston.
  • In 1920, she was reclassified as CA-15.
  • On February 14, 1920, she departed New York for another tour of duty in the Adriatic,
  • On May 25, 1921, the ship returned to Charleston.
  • On June 1921, she was made the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet’s training unit.
  • In July, 1921, she then participated in joint Army-Navy experiments, during which the ex-German warships Ostfriesland and Frankfurt were sunk off the Virginia Capes. She was again reclassified as CL-15 that year.
  • On October 3, 1921, Olympia departed Philadelphia for Le Havre, France, to bring the remains of the Unknown Soldier home for interment in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C..
  • On October 25, 1921, the cruiser departed France, escorted by a group of French destroyers for part of the voyage.
  • On November 9, 1921, at the mouth of the Potomac River, the battleship North Dakotaand the destroyer Bernadou joined Olympia as she sailed to the Washington Navy Yard. After transferring the remains ashore, the cruiser fired her guns in salute.
  • In the summer of 1922, she conducted a last training cruise for midshipmen.
  • On December 9, 1922, she was decommissioned for the last time in Philadelphia and placed in reserve.
  • On June 30, 1931, the ship was reclassified IX-40 to be preserved as a relic.
  • On September 11, 1957, she was released to the Cruiser Olympia Association, restored to her 1898 configuration and became a museum ship under their auspices. The main 8-inch guns and turrets, scrapped before World War I, were replaced with sheet metal fabrications.
  • In 1966, Olympia was designated a National Historic Landmark.
  • In January 1996, when faced with mounting debt and tremendous deferred maintenance, the Cruiser Olympia Society merged with the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. 

Battle Memorial

Today, Olympia is a museum ship at the Independence Seaport Museum in Penn’s Landing in PhiladelphiaNaval Reserve Officer Training Corps Midshipmen from Villanova University and the University of Pennsylvania regularly work on Olympia, functioning as maintenance crew. Olympia’s stern plate and bow ornaments are on display at Dahlgren Hall at the United States Naval Academy.

National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark plaque

National Historic Maritime Landmark plaque

Here are some specifications of this ship:

5 inch gun

Driggs-Schroeder 6-pounder gun

Independence Seaport Museum: 211 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106, U.S.A.  Tel: +1 215-413-8655. Website: www.phillyseaport.org.  Open daily, 10 AM – 5 PM. Closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day but open on New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day (January 15) and President’s Day (February 19). Admission: US$16 (adults), US$12 (seniors, 65 & over), US$12 (children, 3–12 years old), free for college students, military (active & retired) and children 2 years old & under. Seafarin’ Saturday and Citizen Science Lab programming are included with regular admission. Group visits are available at reduced rates for a minimum of ten people. Reservations must be made in advance. Visitors can also walk aboard, tour, and watch historical reenactments conducted by the Cruiser Olympia Living History Crew.

Visit of the MV Logos Hope (Cebu City, Cebu)

From Fort San Pedro, Grace, Jandy, Cheska and I walked over to the Malacañang sa Sugbo berth in Pier 1 where the MV Logos Hope, the world’s largest floating library, was docked.  This world-traveling vessel, operated by the non-profit German Christian charitable organization GBA Ships e.V (Gute Bücher für Alle, English: Good Books for All) and captained by Tom Dyer, arrived in Cebu City last April 28 and was to remain there until May 29.

MV Logos Hope

Here, we checked out its library, occupying one air-conditioned deck of the ship.  It carries some 500,000 educational and Christian books of different titles, covering a range of subjects including fiction, economics, science, sports, hobbies, cookery, arts, medicine, languages, general reference and philosophy, for sale “at a fraction” of the books’ retail price.  Price ranged from PhP100-200 for the cheaper books, while the more expensive ones cost around PhP400-1,000.

The newly created Logos Hope Experience, situated on a deck that was installed into the original ferry’s car area, holds up to 800 visitors at any time, with capacity to host an additional 500 in the Hope Theatre and Logos Lounge. This publicly accessible deck offers visitors an introduction to the vessel and the organization. There’s also the “Journey of Life,” a visual presentation which is based on the story of the “Prodigal Son,” and the International Cafe.

The vessel’s 400 all volunteer (they live on board for two years) crew and staff, headed by Managing Director Seelan Govender, come from 45 countries, many of them humanitarian activists and people interested in social service who took part in the journey to sell books as well as to perform charity activities. Knowledge, Hope and Help is the aim of the vessel and wherever the ship goes, the needy and the destitute get sighs of happiness and hope. The revenue from the book fair is used for building orphanages, providing computer training, for awareness and educational programs for people with HIV, offering free health checkups and for donating to charity funds.

The fourth ship in the Logos line up, after the MV Logos (its wrecked hulk now sits on a rock shelf on the Chilean coast), the MV Logos II (retired in the fall of 2008) and the MV Doulos (sold in 2009 to a company in Singapore) and twice bigger than its predecessors, it is better than other ships operated by the organization when it comes to providing comfort, convenience and a quality cruise to visitors, guests as well as the crew of the ship. The MV Logos Hope was built in 1973 as the ferry MV Gustav Vasa for car ferry service between Malmö (Sweden) and Travemünde (Germany), a route she ran for 10 years.  In April 1983, she was sold to Smyril Line, a Faroese ferry company, and renamed MV Norröna, providing a ferry service to the Faroe Islands. Each summer, she sailed from Tórshavn, the Faroese capital, to Lerwick (Shetland Islands), Bergen (Norway), Hanstholm (Denmark) and Seyðisfjörður (Iceland).

In winter, she was often chartered to cover other operators’ overhaul schedules. When Smyril Line delivered a new Norröna in 2003, the old vessel became MV Norröna I and was put up for sale. In March 2004, after much deliberation, inspection and prayer, GBA purchased the vessel.

Completely refitted over a period of 5 years, it was launched into active service in February 2009 and has visited more than 150 countries in Northern Europe, the Caribbean, West Africa, the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, and most recently south Asia, docking in a port for approximately 2 weeks.  A total of 44 million book lovers have checked out its store. It last visited the Philippines in 2013.

MV Logos Hope: open from Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10 AM to 9:30PM, and Sundays, 1 to 9:30 PM.  Admission:  PhP20 per person. Children under 13 years old and senior citizens may enter for free.