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USS Constitution sets sail, briefly, on Fourth of July voyage

A crowd gathered Wednesday on a pier to photograph the USS Constitution as it came into view. The ship headed to Castle Island in South Boston for a turnaround.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

The USS Constitution made its Fourth of July turnaround in Boston Harbor on Wednesday, in commemoration of the 242nd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

This was the first Independence Day turnaround for the historic vessel since 2014 because of the ship’s lengthy restoration in dry dock, said David Wedemeyer, communications manager for the USS Constitution Museum.

The ship, which defended the sea from the nation’s adversaries from 1798 to 1855, left the Charlestown Navy Yard at 10 a.m. Wednesday and sailed out to Castle Island, where it fired a 21-gun salute in honor of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, according to a release from the USS Constitution Museum.


The 101st Field Artillery from the Massachusetts National Guard returned the salute.

The ship then passed the US Coast Guard Station (which, years ago, was the site of Edmund Hartt’s shipyard, where the ship was built and launched in 1797) and fired a 17-gun salute in honor of the 16 established states as of Oct. 21, 1797, plus one for the ship herself, according to the museum release.

The turnaround came to an end when the ship, known as “Old Ironsides,” returned to the Navy Yard at 1:30 p.m., Mass Communication Specialist Third Class Casey Scoular said.

Approximately 425 guests and 80 crew members Wednesday were onboard the USS Constitution, where they listened to a reading of the Declaration of Independence and watched a Marine Guard rifle demonstration on how the 24-pound long guns were loaded during war, Scoular said.

The public was able to view the turnaround from Boston Harbor, Castle Island, Charlestown Navy Yard, or as passengers onboard Boston Harbor cruise vessels.

The USS Constitution will resume normal tour hours Thursday at 10 a.m.

Katie Camero can be reached at katie.camero@globe.com.