USS Constitution

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Built in Boston and launched in 1797, USS CONSTITUTION is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world today. During the War of 1812 the ship gained fame and its name “Old Ironsides.” CONSTITUTION remains both a training and ceremonial ship for the Navy, as well as an educational experience for visitors.


About USS Constitution and USS Constitution Museum

USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned ship in the United States Navy. Naval officers and crew still serve aboard the ship today. The USS Constitution is operated by the United States Navy, a partner to the National Parks of Boston. The Naval History and Heritage Command, Detachment Boston in Building 24 at the Charlestown Navy Yard is responsible for the maintenance, repair, and restoration of USS Constitution.

Across the pier from Constitution in Building 22 is the USS Constitution Museum. The Museum serves as the memory and educational voice of USS Constitution and provides engaging and hands-on experiences for all visitors. Here you can explore how the ship was built, sailed, and preserved.


USS Constitution

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*Please note: To ensure safety, all visitors wishing to visit USS Constitution will be subject to a security screening. Visitors 18 and older must present a valid federal or state issued photo ID at the ship's security entrance.

USS Constitution Museum

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All operating hours


No fees Free admission to USS Constitution.
Admission by donation at the USS Constitution Museum.


AccessibilityUSS Constitution is a historic ship with limited accessibility.
AccessibilityUSS Constitution Museum is accessibile.

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Contact Info

USS Constitution Website:

USS Constitution Museum Website:

USS Constitution Museum Phone Number: 617-426-1812

USS Constitution Museum Address: USS Constitution Museum, Building 22 Charlestown Navy Yard, Charlestown, MA 02129


Things to Do

USS CONSTITUTION in Boston Harbor displaying full-dress signal flags draped from bow to stern over her three masts. Signal guns are firing in salute.

History of the Ship

Boston's Most Storied Ship

Prior to independence, the thirteen American colonies enjoyed protection from pirates and foreign navies under the British Royal Navy. However, once the United States won independence, the young nation had to defend itself. In 1794, Congress authorized the construction of six warships to became the new United States Navy. One of these warships, USS Constitution, was built at Hartt's shipyard in the North End of Boston. Construction began in 1794 and Constitution launched on October 21, 1797. The ship sailed its first cruise the next year as the Quasi-War with France emerged. Later it served in engagements with pirates off the Barbary Coast in the Mediterranean.

The greatest glory for Constitution, however, came during the War of 1812. Constitution's crew defeated four British frigates during three separate engagements. In battle, Constitution earned the nickname "Old Ironsides" because it appeared as if enemy cannonballs could not penetrate the ship's strong oak hull.

Before and after these voyages, Constitution had to undergo constant repairs and refits. Most of this work was completed here at the Charlestown Navy Yard. After over 200 years in the Navy, Constitution still calls Charlestown home and relies on the same facilities for maintenance and repair.

Today, USS Constitution occasionally sails through Boston Harbor for special anniversaries and commemorations. USS Constitution and its US Navy crew go underway with the assistance of tugboats as they sail down the coast to Castle Island. In the harbor near Castle Island, the Navy crew fires a cannon salute before they turn around to return to the Charlestown Navy Yard.

The Museum

Established in 1972, the USS Constitution Museum serves as the educational institution of USS Constitution.

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Only yards away from "Old Ironsides," the USS Constitution Museum is a "must see" for everyone visiting Boston, where interactive galleries take adults, families and children of all ages on a 200-year voyage. Here, visitors can learn how a wooden hull helped the ship earn the nickname “Old Ironsides;” discover how "Old Ironsides" has remained undefeated since being launched in 1797; find out how school children contributed pennies to help save "Old Ironsides;" and see how sailors ate a diet of hardtack and






Last updated: December 11, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Boston National Historical Park
21 Second Ave

Charlestown, MA 02129


617 242-5601

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