USS Constitution conducts final underway demonstration |

USS Constitution conducts final underway demonstration

Seaman Matthew Fairchild
USS Constitution Public Affairs
USS Constitution gets underway in Boston Harbor for the ship's 217th birthday cruise. This is Constitution's last scheduled cruise before entering dry dock in 2015 for three years of restoration work.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Victoria Kinney | Navy Media Content Service (NMCS

BOSTON (NNS) — The crew of USS Constitution embarked on their final Boston Harbor underway demonstration aboard Old Ironsides this year on Friday.

Constitution set out into the harbor for her fifth and final underway of 2014 at 10 a.m. with more than 600 guests in attendance aboard America’s ‘Ship of State.’ The guest list, made up of individuals and organizations with long-standing ties of support to both the ship and the Navy, featured Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a Boston Pops quintet and the Dropkick Murphys, one of Boston’s most popular hometown bands.

This was the historic warship’s final Boston Harbor cruise until 2018, as she is scheduled to enter dry dock in March 2015 for a three-year planned restoration period.

“I do not think there is any better way to have celebrated this ship’s final underway before going into dry dock for 3 years than having it on this glorious day with all these long-time supporters of the ship and crew here with us,” said Cmdr. Sean D. Kearns, USS Constitution’s 73rd commanding officer. “It really made this underway very special for all involved.”

The underway began with a wreath-laying ceremony in commemoration of the U.S. Navy’s 239th birthday and Constitution’s upcoming 217th birthday, and to honor all Navy sailors who have served and lost their lives both aboard Constitution and throughout the fleet.

“This underway meant a lot to me because not only did I receive the ship’s Blue Jacket of the Year award, but I can also say I was part of the crew that sailed Constitution for the last time for three years,” said Yeoman Seaman Brianna Bays.

Following a wreath laying, Constitution’s underway attendees were led in the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner by Constitution Gunner’s Mate Seaman Amada Williamson, which was followed by the ship’s traditional 21-gun salute to the nation off Fort Independence at Castle Island.

On the return trip back to Constitution’s berth, both crew and guests alike were treated to special live musical performances by the Boston Pops and Dropkick Murphys, respectively. A Boston Pops quintet performed two musical numbers, followed by the Dropkick Murphys playing a set of nine crowd-rousing songs from the ship’s spar deck main hatch, which concluded with one of their most popular hits – “I’m Shipping Up To Boston”.

“Today was an amazing and very unique experience,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate Christopher Haws, a Constitution crew member. “This was the culmination of everything we, as a crew, have pushed for all year – everything we’ve worked toward for the future of this historic command.”

In a harbor cruise that offered its guests a little bit of everything; even representatives from the Boston Celtics displayed the team’s 1981 NBA Championship Trophy in Constitution’s captain’s cabin for all to see.

Following an additional 17-gun salute off U.S. Coast Guard Base Boston, the site where Constitution was originally constructed and launched Oct. 21, 1797, Old Ironsides returned to her berth in Charlestown Navy Yard at 1 p.m., where she will continue undergoing preparations for transition into Drydock 1 in Charlestown Navy Yard in March 2015.

USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, actively defended sea lanes against global threats from 1797 to 1855. Now a featured destination on Boston’s Freedom Trail, Constitution and her crew of U.S. Navy sailors offer community outreach and education about the ship’s history and the importance of naval seapower to more than 500,000 visitors each year.