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03 USS Constitution 4th of July George Washington midshipmen US Naval Academy Barbary Pirates Support Our Troops

Boston, Massachusetts. (July 2, 2024): In this photo by MC1 Raymond Minami, volunteers with the 812 Marine Guard fire a saluting volley aboard USS Constitution during 4th of July celebrations in Boston Harbor. The world's oldest commissioned warship, the USS Constitution was launched in 1797 after President George Washington ordered the creation of an American Navy. She earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” after cannonballs seemed to bounce off her hull in a battle against the British warship HMS Guerriere. She also played a key role during the Barbary Wars (1801-1805) defending American shipping lanes against pirates. She was undefeated in battle, destroyed or captured 33 opponents, and is credited as the only remaining U.S. Navy ship to have sunk an enemy warship.

Today, the 227-year-old vessel is a floating museum and a training venue for a select few lucky Sailors who get to live in a piece of history. During numerous patriotic celebrations throughout the year, the USS Constitution will fire its cannons in a 21-gun salute while Sailors, dressed in traditional garb, weigh anchor and man the ship’s sails just as they did at the beginning of the Republic. Each year, over 600,000 civilians are given free tours of the ship and her operations as part of the Navy’s mission to preserve our maritime heritage.

The USS Constitution’s role as a training facility for young officers (midshipmen) began in 1860 when she sailed to Annapolis, Maryland to serve the U.S. Naval Academy. Today, midshipmen perform “climbing revolutions”, scrambling up and down the rigging and sails of this ancient vessel, as they learn modern navigation and leadership. These crews also assist the Constitution’s Museum staff as they host thousands of school groups from across the country.