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"Old Ironsides" Sets Sail in Boston Harbor

Jason Oliva

The U.S.S. Constitution setting sail in 1997

The U.S.S. Constitution sails on own power for second time in 131 years

The U.S.S. Constitution set sail Sunday for the second time in 131 years. “Old Ironsides” left her dock in the Boston Harbor for about 17 minutes on her own power for the second time since 1997, the previous time being in 1881.

The Constitution set sail in the Boston Harbor to commemorate the 200th anniversary of her victory over British warship HMS Guerriere during the War of 1812, a battle which earned the historic warship its nickname “Old Ironsides.”

285 people were aboard the ship that once it reached President Roads in Boston Harbor, was let go by tugboats and free to sail on its own at a speed of 3.1 knots. The ship returned to pier after 2p.m. and reopened for public tours by 4 p.m.

“There were no problems,” said spokesperson Frank Neely. “All in all, it was a very successful sail.”

The sailing of The Constitution was a historic moment in the lives of crewmen enlisted to aid in the excursion.

“I’m extremely honored to be a part of the group that can say they sailed the USS Constitution,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate, Michael Zgoda. “Being able to learn from a variety of genuine chiefs and their different perspectives on leadership is overwhelming and important to the chief petty officer transition.”

In 2015, The Constitution will undergo restoration work in which the vessel will be placed on stilts out of water. 

The Constitution, which is regarded as the world’s oldest commissioned warship, is tugged into the harbor several times a year. Going on 131 years, this will surely not be the last voyage for “Old Ironsides.”

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