USS Constitution Celebrates Launching Day Anniversary

USS Constitution Celebrates Launching Day Anniversary

USS Constitution and her crew got underway from the ship’s berth in Charlestown, Mass. Oct. 21 to celebrate her 214th launching day anniversary.

More than 200 Sailors and guests embarked the ship as she departed her pier at approximately 10 a.m.

“I cannot think of a better way to celebrate Constitution’s launching day than to be underway with the crew, their friends and families, and our partners in the Navy Yard,” said Cmdr. Matt Bonner, Constitution’s 72nd commanding officer. “Constitution has served this great nation both as a frontline warship and now as a poignant reminder of why we built a navy over 200 years ago and still need one today.”

The ship then fired a 21-gun salute in the vicinity of Fort Independence on Castle Island. Fort Independence is a state park that served as a defense post for Boston Harbor at one time.

The ship fired an additional 17 shots as she passed the U.S. Coast Guard Station Boston, the former site of the Edmund Hartt shipyard where Constitution was built. The shots honored the 16 states that comprised America when Constitution launched in 1797 and one in honor of the ship.

“It was a fascinating experience,” said Wendell Morris, a guest. “This underway is something you read or hear about, so to be on board today is amazing.”

Finally, Bonner announced the 2011 winners of the Berenson and leadership awards. The Berenson Award went to the Sailor who consistently gave the best tours of Constitution’s history to the public. The leadership award went to the Sailor who demonstrated the best leadership qualities. Winners of both awards are determined by vote of their superiors and peers.

“I am speechless,” said Master-at-Arms 1st Class (SW/EXW) Marina Chavez, who won the leadership award. “It is moving and an honor to be recognized by my fellow crew members. Knowing that I helped lead such a diligent, remarkable crew is a real award.”

Constitution returned to her berth at approximately 1 p.m. The underway demonstration was the fifth and last for the ship in 2011.

It took Constitution’s crew three attempts before successfully launching her Oct. 21, 1797. The first failed attempt happened Sept. 20, 1797 and the second two days later. She kept getting stuck in the mud due to her heavy weight.

Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat. She defended the sea lanes against threats from 1797 to 1855, much like the mission of today’s Navy. Constitution’s mission today is to offer community outreach and education about the ship’s history, as she welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year.

Source: navy, October 24, 2011