For only the second time in the past century the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship in the world, sailed under her own power in Boston harbor.
The sailing marked the 200th anniversary of her landmark battle versus the HMS Guerriere during the War of 1812, in which she became the first US warship to defeat a British warship of equal size and power. It’s also the action in which she earned her nickname “Old Ironsides” for the way in which the British man-o-war’s cannonballs bounced off her sides.
The last time she sailed was in 1997 on her 200th birthday. She was towed up to Marblehead, Mass., the birthplace of the US Navy, on the North Shore of Massachusetts, for a week of festivities including lots of Navy brass. Even the network morning shows came up to broadcast live from the shore of Marblehead for the final sailing. I was there too, standing on the shore at the crack of dawn to see her towed out to sea where she put up her sails for the first time and made her way as the Grand Dame she is.
Then in 2007, I had the opportunity to be aboard the Constitution during her annual July 4 turnaround cruise. My dad had come to know one of the former commanders of the ship and got two of the precious tickets for the public. That was an awesome experience and an amazing day. Among other things I was able to record video of the 21-gun salute as it was fired from the gun deck.
So you can imagine that when I heard about today, I very much wanted to go see it. The sail was to occur in Boston Harbor (map), as she would be towed out to President Roads then turned around whereupon she would set her sails for the return journey. Thus the ideal spot would be Castle Island in South Boston.
Unfortunately, Mass for us is 9:30 am and by the time we got done and would have been able to get to Castle Island would have been too late to get through the crowds into a decent viewing position, not to mention the starving children.
Ah well, maybe someday she will sail again for a third time in my lifetime. Hmm, maybe too much to ask.