USS Constellation – More Photos

I promised more photos and here they are:

The USS Constellation is remarkably well preserved. Her keel was laid in 1853. She was launched in 1854 and commissioned in 1855. She is the last sail only ship commissioned by the US Navy. Constellation is a Sloop-of-War, having only a single gun deck. (The bow and stern chasers on the weather deck don’t count.)

Amazingly, in 1942 from January to July, the Constellation served as the flagship of the US Atlantic fleet. Admiral Royal Ingersol needed every available ship engaged in operations so he transfered his flag to the Constellation to free up the cruiser Augusta. In July 1942, the flag transfered to the USS Vixen and the Constellation returned to her previous role as the Relief Flagship of the Atlantic Fleet and Battleship Division 5 for the rest of the war.

Here’s a close up of the stern. You can see the ornate stern gallery which contained the captain’s cabin.

She rides high because the guns are all fiberglass reproductions. The real guns weigh 7000 pounds each and when they’re loaded you wouldn’t see the blue paint at all.

The Weather Deck, looking aft from the bow:

The Ships Wheel:

Below: The Weather Deck, from the wheel, facing the bow. You can see the capstan between the two hatches just behind the main mast.

This is where “Batten the Hatches” comes from. The Battens are the strips of wood used to secure the hatch cover in bad weather.

The port gun deck, looking aft. The Constellation was armed with 18, eight inch shell guns, four 32 pounder long guns, one 20 pounder Parrot Rifle (Stern chaser, fired for the noon gun) and one 30 pounder Parrot Rifle (Bow chaser). There were also three 12 pound bronze boat Howitzers.

The Captain’s Cabin:

The Captain has his own private toilet in the starboard gallery. The other officers and sailors had to make do with hanging out over planks at the head (bow) of the ship, the origin of the naval usage of “head” for the toilet.

The Ward Room surrounded by the officer’s staterooms.

And the sailor’s hammocks on the berth deck:

Hammocks were only allowed on the berth deck between 8:00 pm and 7:30 am.

There was a HUGE difference in living conditions between the officers and sailors.

Below: The ships hold. The iron bars are the ballast which stabilize the ship and counterbalance the force of the wind on the sails and rigging. Without the ballast the ship would roll over. The ballast was small enough to be moved around in the hold to trim the ship.

Here I am in the Aft Orlop deck. I’m not tall, I wake up at 5′ 8″, so you can see this is a very cramped space. It’s a common misconception that the decks are short because the people were smaller. (They weren’t) It’s really because balance was so critical on the ship. The decks are spaced closer together as they go down so the weight could be concentrated near the keel.

The USS Constellation and Museum is at

Pier 1, 301 East Pratt St.

Baltimore, MD 21202

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