U.S.S. Constellation Dressed for Queen Elizabeth's Birthday during visit of H.M.S. York. Newport Rhode Island in 1937
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Photo by Tom Wachs
unused, from 2011
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USS Constellation constructed in 1854 is a sloop-of-war (warship with a single gun deck). It is the last sail-only warship designed and built by the U.S. Navy.
From 1855-1858 Constellation performed largely diplomatic duties as part of the US Mediterranean Squadron.
She was flagship of the USN African Squadron from 1859-1861. In this period she disrupted the African slave trade by interdicting three slave ships and releasing the imprisoned Africans.
After the Civil War Constellation saw various duties such as carrying famine relief stores to Ireland and exhibits to the Paris Exposition Universelle (1878). She also spent a number of years as a receiving ship.
Constellation became a training ship in 1894 for the Naval Training Center in Newport, Rhode Island where she helped train more than 60,000 recruits during World War I.
Decommissioned in 1933, Constellation was recommissioned as a national symbol in 1940 by President Franklin Roosevelt.
Constellation was again decommissioned on 4 February 1955 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 15 August 1955 — about 100 years and 2 weeks from her first commissioning. She was taken to her permanent berth in Baltimore, Maryland and designated a National Historic Landmark on 23 May 1963.
She is the last existing American Civil War-era naval vessel and was one of the last sail-powered warships built by the U.S. Navy.
In 1994 Constellation was condemned as an unsafe vessel. She was towed to drydock at Fort McHenry in 1996, and a $9-million restoration project was completed in July 1999.
On 26 October 2004 Constellation made her first trip out of Baltimore's Inner Harbor since 1955. The trip to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, lasting six days, marked the ship's first trip to the city in 111 years.
Today tours are regularly available, self-guided or with the assistance of staff.