Soon after framing of the U.S. Constitution, President George Washington launched the U.S. first naval vessel named the USS Constitution in 1797. The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned naval ship among the five others, and it was the third constructed vessel following the Naval Act of 1974. These naval ships were large and fully armed fleets of the time and were more robust than the regular fleets. The primary goal of the Constitution was to protect the American merchant ships from France attacks during the Quasi-War and also to defend the country from the Barbary pirates during the First Barbary War. Constitution has been famous for its service by fighting against the United Kingdom in the War of 1812 and for defeating the British warships and also for capturing many merchant ships.
The chief reason for the passing of the Naval Act of 1794 is because of the seizure of the American merchant ships in the Mediterranean Sea by the Barbary pirates. As a result, fervent requests were made to protect the American merchant ships leading to the passing of the act and consequently the building of the six fleets which included the USS Constitution. The Constitution had the capacity to carry about 50 guns in one shot which no other ship of those days could carry. Besides, the guns and the cannons were portable so that it could be exchanged between the ships as and when required. Constitution carried about 11 kg of cannons during the War of 1812 placing 15 of them on each side of the gun deck.
Constitution played a greater role in both Quasi-War as well as the First Barbary War by being the flagship to command the squadron. In spite of its challenges of being damaged by a gale and the need to go in for repairs, the vessel gained recognition as the United States ship carrying 44 guns with a sign of pride. Similarly, in the Battle of Tripoli Harbor, Constitution provided major support in the form of gunfire and bombarding of the Tripoli shore batteries. Constitution along with her set of squadron destroyed the Tripoli gunboats through a series of attacks and took captive of its crew.
Constitution was such a heavy and robust vessel that it had acquired a nickname called the “Old Ironsides.” In its combat against the Guerriere during the War of 1812, it received little to no damage in spite of Guerriere firing continuously upon the entire range of the Constitution. Yet the vessel remained intact after the combat causing Guerriere to become dismasted and damaged and eventually forcing the British to surrender. Captain Hull, the captain of the Constitution, was surprised by the fleet’s heavy broadside and its sailing ability. The vessel caused many to be astonished as it has received major shots by the British fleet Guerriere and yet was able to rebound itself while leaving Guerriere less worthy to be towed to its port. It is interesting to note that while the Constitution’s life expectancy was about 10 to 15 years, it served for about 31 years standing as a pride of the nation.