She was launched in 1797 and is crewed by 75 United States Navy sailors

USS Constitution: this is the oldest military ship in the world that is still in service

The United States Navy is known for its large aircraft carriers and huge modern fleet, but it also has the oldest military ship still in service.

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On November 1, 1794, the second heavy frigate of the six that made up the United States class was commissioned. The ship had 44 guns and was launched on October 21, 1797 at Edmund Hartt's shipyards in Boston, Massachusetts. In the following years, she participated in the French-American War (1798-1800), the First Barbary War (1801-1805) and the Anglo-American War of 1812. Being a wooden ship, she was expected that her useful life was 10 or 15 years, but her life was much longer.

During those wars, the USS Constitution became famous for its exploits, achieving great renown in the US and receiving the nickname "Old Ironsides", but she fell into disrepair and required extensive repairs. In 1828 she was sent to the naval reserve and in 1830 a newspaper published that she was to be scrapped . There was a wave of indignation in the country and a movement to save the ship. The poet Oliver Wendell Holmes even dedicated a poem of hers to her. Finally, in 1833 the ship was sent to dry dock for repairs, remaining there for a year.

Though already an old ship by then, USS Constitution became the flagship of the Mediterranean Squadron of the US Navy in 1835, returning to the Norfolk naval base in Virginia in 1838. In 1839 she began a new voyage as flagship of the Pacific Squadron, returning to Norfolk in 1841. In 1843 she again had to undergo costly repairs, after which in 1844 she began around the world that took her to Brazil, Madagascar, Mozambique, Singapore, Brunei, Cochinchina (present-day Vietnam), China, the Philippines (then Spanish territory) and Hawaii, where she equipped herself to participate in the US expedition against Mexico in 1846. She returned to Boston on September 27 of that year.

During the Civil War, the USS Constitution was taken to the Annapolis Naval Academy, in order to protect that ship, which was already a symbol of the country, against the Confederate forces. Her sister, the frigate USS United States, was not so lucky. In 1861 she was captured by the Confederates and renamed CSS United States. She would be scrapped in 1865, making USS Constitution the sole survivor of the six frigates of her class.

Over the years, the ship fell into disrepair again and was no longer used as a training ship in Annapolis. At the beginning of the 20th century, a plan to raise funds for her repair failed, and in 1905 it was proposed that it be used as a naval target and sunk. Again, the protests of citizens led Congress to authorize the funds needed to repair the frigate. In 1907 she was turned into a museum and her name was made available for use by a working ship.

The frigate regained its official name of USS Constitution in 1925. After a new repair process, she was commissioned again into the Navy in 1931, being assigned a crew of 60 sailors and 15 marines. Since then, the ship has remained active, undergoing successive repairs and currently maintaining its crew of 75 sailors. Today she is a representative ship, dedicated to promoting naval culture and maintaining the memory of all generations of sailors who have served the United States.

The USS Constitution is still equipped with 44 muzzle-loading guns, and these are occasionally used for salvo firing.

Being assigned to the USS Constitution is a special honor for any sailor, as she is not only the oldest active military ship in the world, but sh is also the most serviceable ship in the world. oldest boat in existence and a true symbol for the United States.

Undoubtedly, life aboard the USS Constitution is very different from that of any other US Navy ship. Daily life is carried out in regulation Navy uniforms, but with the rigging and armament of an 18th century ship.

Sailors have to manually furl the sails, climbing the masts just like their predecessors did on this frigate.

As a curiosity, among the crew of the USS Constitution the custom of the old sailor salute is preserved, consisting of grasping the brim of the hat with two fingers. This may be the origin of the current military salute.

An image of the guns on the starboard side of the frigate, during a salvo shot.

The crew of the USS Constitution also have the chance to fire old 18th century muskets as part of their training.

At parade time, crew members of the USS Constitution wear 18th-century uniforms, as seen in this photo taken in Boston on November 5, 2022.

On the USS Constitution the crew continue to be trained on how to use 18th century muzzle-loading guns, which are used for firing salutes.


Photos: US Navy.

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