The USS Constitution, or Old Ironsides as she’s sometimes called, has the distinction of being the oldest naval ship anywhere still to be sailing the seas. This magnificent vessel with her three masts and timber hull was launched in 1797, seven months after George Washington’s second presidential term ended. Indeed, it was he who ordered the ship’s construction and coined her name.
Construction of the Constitution started in 1794 at the Boston, Massachusetts shipyard of master carpenter Edmund Hartt. Designer Joshua Humphreys specified that the tall ship’s hull timbers should be 21 inches thick, that she should be 204 feet from bow to stern; and just over 43 feet across the beam. Some 60 acres of mostly oaks and pines were felled to build her.