Three warships named the USS Constellation have served in the U.S. Navy.The first, a frigate launched from Baltimore in 1797, fought successfully against the French navy, suppressed the Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean and protected Norfolk from the British during the War of 1812. It was broken up in 1853.
The second — currently on display in Baltimore — was built as a sloop in Norfolk and launched in 1855. It has guarded American merchant ships and fought the slave trade off Africa and helped enforce the naval blockade against the South during the Civil War. The ship saw its last official duty in 1926. During rehabilitation in the 1960s, the ship was re-rigged as a frigate to resemble its 1797 ancestor and was moved to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in 1968. The last major overhaul of the ship was from 1994-1999.
The third Constellation, a modern U.S. Navy aircraft carrier (CV-64), saw duty from 1960-1993 and is currently mothballed in the Puget Sound Naval Station in Washington state.
The Constellation in Baltimore Harbor today is owned and maintained by Historic Ships in Baltimore, the non-profit group that co-sponsors the Constellation Cup regatta. The Constellation and other historic ships are open for public tours.
Historic Ships in Baltimore: www.historicships.org
USS Constellation: www.historicships.org/constellation.html
Constellation Cup race: http://ussconstellationcup.org/USS_Constellation_Cup_2009/Home.html
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor: www.baltimore.to/baltimore.html
This article originally appeared in the Mid-Atlantic Home Waters Section of the February 2010 issue.