The U.S.S. Constitution, one of the six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794, is celebrating its 223rd birthday. The wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy is affectionately known as “Old Ironsides” in honor of the 1830 poem by American writer Oliver Wendell Holmes that paid tribute to the historic ship. More than two centuries after first setting sail, the U.S.S. Constitution is now the oldest commissioned ship in the world that is still afloat, and is docked inside Boston National Historical Park in Charlestown, Massachusetts, attracting tens of thousands of visitors every year.
“Aye tear her tattered ensign down, long has it waved on high, and many an eye has danced to see that banner in the sky.” —
“Old Ironside” by Oliver Wendell Holmes (1830)