Launched in Boston in 1797, the oldest commissioned warship afloat earned her nickname "Old Ironsides" during the War of 1812 when she fought the British frigate HMS Guerriere. During this historic battle, cannonballs fired at USS Constitution appeared to bounce off, causing one of her crew to remark that her sides were made of iron. In fact, the durability of Constitution is attributed to a three-layer wooden sandwich of live oak and white oak from all across America. The ship’s copper fastenings were constructed by Paul Revere.
The USS Constitution is a well-traveled ship, having patrolled the West Indies, Brazil, and the West African coast and participated in the Barbary Wars. The ship is permanently berthed in the Charlestown Navy Yard and ventures out several times a year into Boston Harbor, most notably on July 4th to celebrate our nation's Independence Day. Today, more than 216 years later, she is still a commissioned U.S. Navy warship with a crew of naval officers and enlisted personnel. You can board the USS Constitution and learn more about the warship at the USS Constitution Museum.
PIRATES As one of colonial America’s foremost seaports, Boston saw its share of piracy. In the 17th-century several pirates were hanged in Boston. Pirates were also hung in cages, a practice called gibbeting, on some of the Boston Harbor Islands. These gibbeted pirates were visible to those who sailed by as warning to all pirates. Boston also supported many privateers (pirates with license to plunder enemies of the King). In fact, one privateer, Captain Silas Talbot, would eventually become the second Captain of the USS Constitution.
USS CONSTITUTION MUSEUM Only yards away from USS Constitution, the Museum is a "must see" for everyone visiting Boston! Interactive, hands-on exhibits for all ages bring history alive as one learns what life was like at sea over 200 years ago. Learn how "Old Ironsides" earned her nickname and how she has remained undefeated since her launch in 1797. Swing in a hammock, join a mess, and furl a sail at the USS Constitution Museum, where you don't just learn about history, you experience it!
Freedom Trail Foundation tours that feature this site:
Walk Into History - Extended Tour (private only)
USS Constitution — Boston National Historical Park
Charlestown Navy Yard
Open for on-board visits:
April 16-April 26, Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
*April 27-June 8, Ship closed for relocation to Dry Dock 1,
June 9-September 30, Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 p.m.-6 p.m., Saturdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
*Please visit ship's website for updated Fall-Winter tour hours
Saluting battery firing: Daily, 8 a.m. & Sunset
Guests ages 18+ must have a federal or state-issued photo I.D. or passport to board the ship
Closed: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day
USS Constitution Museum
Charlestown Navy Yard
April 1 - October 31, 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
November 1 - March 31, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Closed: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day
Admission by donation