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How to see the USS Constitution when it goes afloat on Sunday

This is the stern. From the top, the black painted area is visible in the water, the copper paint and copper sheets sit below the water.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

After a restoration two years in the making, the USS Constitution will return to the water Sunday in a celebration at the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Known as Old Ironsides, the ship is a featured destination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and has been in dry dock since its restoration began in 2015. The changes cost $12 million and included the replacement of copper sheaths, hull planks, gun carriers, and the rigging.

And Sunday’s date represents more than just the ship’s restoration. It also marks 63 years since Congress decreed the ship would stay in Boston.

Here’s how to see the USS Constitution as it goes afloat again.


When: The celebration will start at 4 p.m. and last through midnight.

Where: The Charlestown Navy Yard.

What: A scavenger hunt, food trucks, music, demonstrations, and more.

Cost: Free

But when can I actually see Old Ironsides afloat again? Dry Dock 1 will begin to flood at 4:15 p.m., but the real excitement begins at about 10 p.m., when the keel blocks of the ship are lifted. At about 11:30 p.m., the ship is expected to cross into the Boston Harbor.

What if I want to go aboard? The ship will be closed to the public until late summer, when it is secured in its home on Pier 1. After its reopening, the ship will be open to the public Tuesday through Sunday.

Felicia Gans can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.