July 21, 2007

Constitution Underway Demonstration

Stern View

U.S.S. Constitution

Last week’s U.S.S. Constitution underway demonstration was an amazing experience. I’ve taken some pictures and added captions to a Flickr set here.

We met with Bill and some family members at 8:30 that morning for refreshments in the CO’s office. Soon, we were led off by one of Constitution’s gallant tars to board the ship. We had a good hour before we left the dock, and so we explored all three decks of the ship.

Many people were already aboard, and they continued to board over the ensuing hour. There were hundreds of people on board, from all over the country. Many were wide-eyed in disbelief of their good fortune at having the opportunity to take part in this underway demonstration on a ship with such a storied history.

The official party boarded including Navy officials in their dress whites, a contrast to the crew of Constitution who were all in period uniform. Also aboard were a squad of marines in period uniform, complete with their long-barreled guns.

The ship flew a giant United States flag and we set off for the other end of the harbor.

When we got out to Fort Independence, someone on shore was firing off salutes to the Constitution. In return, the captain ordered the cannon to be fired in our own salute. Earplugs were provided to protect our hearing, and I was thankful to have them.

The cannon fire aboard Constitution was a unique feeling. While I heard the explosions, saw and smelled the smoke, the most dramatic aspect was feeling the pounding of the guns run up through the deck all the way to the crown of my head. Every cannon shot was a multi-sense experience. I can only imagine what it would have been like to be aboard Constitution with all the cannon firing, or when a cannonball famously bounced off the hull.

Constitution came about for the return trip and the crew had activities for the children on board — setting them on a treasure hunt for clues aboard the ship. It was a great idea, because after 2 hours on board, the children were getting worn out.

Halfway back, the crew cleared the main hatch and the Marines formed a line to fire off a salute of their own.

All in all it was a very rich and singular experience, and something I never imagined we’d be doing.

I am grateful for the opportunity, and wish “Bull” all the best luck with his command!

Posted by James at July 21, 2007 10:48 AM
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My parents are from charlestown... I spent a LOT of time on old ironsides growing up. Never got to sail on it tho.

It must've been awesome

Posted by: jay at July 22, 2007 1:48 PM

I am envious beyond belief, but happy that you got to go and immensely proud of Commander Bull.

Posted by: briwei at July 22, 2007 9:41 PM

Excellent photos.

How long does Bull expect to command the ship? I noticed on the list you photographed that most people have held the position for two to three years.

Posted by: Mike at July 23, 2007 11:35 AM

I haven't asked him, but as you noted it looks like the usual is 2 years or so. For reasons I can't remember, I had assumed it would be 2 years, and the plaque reinforced that assumption.

Posted by: James at July 23, 2007 11:54 AM

Ni-ice commission, Bull. Need any help, give a call. I'll call boxhaul any time. Rawkawn!

Posted by: ThirdMate at July 23, 2007 6:25 PM

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