The USS Constitution is set to travel from Charlestown Navy Yard to Fort Independence at Castle Island and back on Oct. 20 to commemorate the ship’s 220th birthday and the 242nd birthday of the US Navy.
The ship will not sail under her own power but will be tug-assisted for this turnaround demonstration, according to David Wedemeyer of the USS Constitution Museum.
“Old Ironsides” underwent restoration work beginning in May 2015 to replace 100 hull planks and install 2,200 new copper sheets. The Constitution returned to the water July 23 and reopened tours in early September. This will be her first trip out of dock in three years.
After leaving the Navy Yard at 10 a.m., the Constitution should arrive at Fort Independence around 11:30 a.m., where she will fire a 21-gun salute, returned by the Concord Independent Battery and 101st Field Artillery Regiment from the Massachusetts National Guard, according to a release from Petty Officer First Class Joshua Hammond.
As the ship passes the US Coast Guard Base Boston in the North End, an additional 17-gun salute will be fired. The base is the former site of the Edmund Hartt Shipyard, where the Constitution was built and launched in the 1790s. The ship will then return to her berth in Charlestown around 1 p.m.
On Oct. 21, officers and crew of “Old Ironsides,” the Boston National Historical Park, and the USS Constitution Museum are hosting a public celebration of the Navy and the ship at the Navy Yard from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The festivities are expected to begin with the arrival of the Rolling Thunder motorcyclists, an advocacy group for prisoners of war and missing in action US service members.
A ceremony at noon is set to feature a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Navy Band Northeast and speakers from the US Navy, National Park Service, and the USS Constitution Museum. At 12:15 p.m., the USS Constitution's saluting cannon will fire, signaling the moment of her launch in 1797.
The rest of the day will include numerous free family-friendly activities, including tours of “Old Ironsides,” block and tackle demonstrations, and a ship building and racing program. Visitors will be able to make birthday cards for the ship and make paracord bracelets for care packages to deployed service members.
Martha Schick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.