Friday, June 5, 2015

USS Constitution

So for anyone who happens to be wandering over here from Real Otaku Gamer, and for my regular readers, I thought I'd do a little post on the USS Constitution as the first in a series of "tours" of ships from the age of sail. (Dear regular readers, a few days ago I helped ID the ship in the new Fallout 4 trailer as Old Ironsides, which is most likely the first and last time I will ever have expertise in anything related to video games!)

The Constitution fires a salute following one of her rare sails.

The Constitution is exactly the sort of American frigate (of 44 guns) that Captain Stanton wanted and did not ever get a crack at fighting in A Constant Love. He might particularly have liked a chance to fight USS Constitution, because she was the ship had had done much of the damaging of British pride during the war of 1812, defeating the British frigates Guerriere and Java (victories later, in part, avenged by Captain Broke's defeat of the Chesapeake).

Another rare sight: the Constitution tied up before the whaler Charles W. Morgan.

It's a little strange as a US author to write about the War of 1812 from the British side, particularly when I'm a huge fan of the Constitution, and have been up to see the ship multiple times. But that war ended 200 years ago, and these days there are so few of these old sailing warships remaining that they are celebrated by all who care about the age of sail, regardless of nationality. And the Constitution is a particularly unique old girl, for (excepting now, when she has been drydocked for restoration) she has been the oldest commissioned warship afloat (HMS Victory, who should certainly get her own post in the future is the oldest, but is in permanent drydock in Portsmouth).

I was fortunate enough to get to see her sail in 2012, and it's an experience I'll never forget. The wind was not entirely cooperative, but in a way, it really made it hit home that in the age of sail, that was all the faster any ship would have gone on that day. And in a way, it's probably for the best that it wasn't a strong breeze, for even with that little wind, there was a team of scientists in the ship's hold, constantly monitoring the ship to ensure she could bear additional strain of sailing under her own power. All that for a sail that, 200 years ago, Captains Stanton and Ramsey would have considered nothing at all.

Below are a few videos I've shot on my various visits to see the ship.

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