7 stirring images of the birthday cruise the US Navy just threw for its 222-year-old warship

Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Alec Krame / US Navy / DVIDSUSS Constitution is tugged through the Boston harbour during Constitution’s birthday cruise.
  • The USS Constitution celebrated its 222nd birthday on October 18, 2019, with a cruise around the Boston Harbour. The ship forst set sail on October 21, 1797, after two failed attempts.
  • The Constitution earned its nickname, “Old Ironsides,” during the War of 1812, when enemy fire couldnt’t penetrate its hull.
  • The Constitution still has a full crew and is the US’s Ship of State, hosting visiting dignitaries and acting as a site to sign important legislation regarding the military.
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A 222nd birthday is quite a milestone, and the USS Constitution celebrated in style on Friday. A cruise through Boston Harbour showed off Old Ironsides, the oldest commissioned ship in the Navy, according to the National Parks Service.

Although the ship isn’t engaged in warfighting anymore, it hosts visitors as an historic site, along with the USS Constitution Museum in Charlestown, Massachusetts.

Read on to learn more about the USS Constitution’s history.


The Constitution started construction in 1794, and first set sail October 21, 1797.

Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Alec Kramer / US Navy / DVIDSUSS Constitution is tugged through the Boston harbour during Constitution’s birthday cruise.

She was built in Boston as one of the US Navy’s first six warfighting ships after the United States gained independence. The Constitution was first engaged during a dispute between the US and France called the Quasi-War, which took place between 1798 and 1800, according to the US Historian.


It wasn’t until the War of 1812 that she earned her nickname.

Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Alec Krame / US Navy / DVIDSUSS Constitution is tugged through the Boston harbour during Constitution’s birthday cruise.

The War of 1812 involved the US in a trade dispute between Britain and France, which later spiraled into a conflict over national sovereignty, territorial control, and westward expansion by the US.

But during the conflict, the Constitution’s hull was apparently so strong – like iron – that enemy fire couldn’t penetrate, earning the nickname “Old Ironsides.”


The Constitution still has a full crew, which maintains the ship.

Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Casey Scoular / US Navy / DVIDSThe Constitution got underway to celebrate the ship’s 222nd birthday and the Navy’s 244th Birthday.

The ship maintains an active-duty commander and crew, who keep the vessel and its gear ship-shape and give tours to members of the public.

Source: US Navy


The Constitution attempted to launch into Boston Harbour twice — and failed — before it succeeded on October 21, 1797.

Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Casey Scoular / US Navy / DVIDSThe USS Constitution celebrates its 222nd birthday.

Source: USS Constitution Museum


After her lengthy service and legendary survivability in the War of 1812, rumours began to circulate in the 1830s that Old Ironsides would be retired.

Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Casey Scoular / US Navy / DVIDSThe USS Constitution celebrates its 222nd birthday

Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the poem”Old Ironsides” to stir public sentiment to save her, according to the USS Constitution Museum. She remained in service until 1853, and was converted into a naval school ship between 1857 and 1860.


In 1925, US school children raised $US154,000 to restore the Constitution.

Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Casey Scoular / US Navy / DVIDSUSS Constitution is tugged through the Boston harbour during Constitution’s birthday cruise.

Source: USS Constitution Museum


She was designated the US’s Ship of State in 2010 by former President Barack Obama.

Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Samoluk / US Navy / DVIDSThe Constitution cruised around Boston Harbour on October 18, 2019.

Source: USS Constitution Museum

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