USS Constitution

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The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned ship in the United States Navy, having served for more than 208 years.


The USS Constitution was one of six frigates whose construction was authorized by George Washington in 1794 to protect the growing American merchant fleet both from the "Barbary Pirate" states of Morocco, Tunis, and Tripoli and the still-powerful British Royal Navy. These six ships were each built in different cities; the contract to build the USS Constitution was given to Edumund Hartt's shipyard in Boston.

It took three years to finish building the USS Constitution. Though her initial apportion was $115,000, her final cost was more than $300,000. It took some 2,000 trees to build her, including specialty woods cut from Maine and Georgia; her cannons were cast in Rhode Island and were fitted with copper fastenings from the prominent and prosperous craftsman, Paul Revere. She was finished on 10 October 1797, but it took a few attempts to launch her before she was commissioned, on 21 October 1797.