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USS Constitution Commencing Final Preparations for Dry Dock Entry

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS150330-10
Release Date: 3/30/2015 11:20:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Victoria Kinney, USS Constitution Public Affairs

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (NNS) -- After delays brought on by Boston's snowiest winter on record, USS Constitution is scheduled to enter Dry Dock 1 in Charlestown Navy Yard in the early hours of May 19, 2015.

Old Ironsides' move into dry dock, originally slated for March 20, will now commence at approximately 12 a.m. on May 19. The docking evolution was selected for a midnight start due to favorable predicted tidal conditions in Boston Harbor.

Following a year of repairs to ready Dry Dock 1, the second-oldest operational dry dock in the United States, for Constitution's impending arrival, the dock is now ready to be flooded and tested starting this week.

Installation of new dry dock caisson:

On Tuesday, March 31 at 9 a.m., Dry Dock 1 will be flooded for the first time since 2013 and the dock's current caisson door will be removed. Starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, April 1, the dock's newest caisson door, only the third caisson ever used in the dock's 181-year history, will be installed, ballasted and seated to ensure a watertight fit and proper stability. The dock will then be dewatered that night and re-flooded at 6 a.m. the following morning.

On Tuesday, April 7 at 8 a.m., the dock will once again be flooded and a team of inspectors from Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) will conduct a thorough inspection of the dock and its new 296 ton caisson to certify its ability to safely house the 217-year-old Constitution for the entirety of her 3-year stay there.

Dry Dock 1 holds approximately 4.8 million gallons of water and takes approximately two hours to fill and 14 hours to empty. On June 24, 1833, Constitution became the first ship ever to enter the dock, which used a wooden-constructed caisson at that time.

Changes to public tour hours:

From April 16 through April 26, Constitution will be shifting from winter to summer public tour hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. (closed on Mondays with the exception of Patriots Day on Monday, April 20).

Beginning Monday, April 27, Constitution will temporarily close to the public while final preparations are made for entering dry dock on May 19. On June 9, once the ship is secure in Dry Dock 1, Constitution will reopen to the public with tour hours taking place Tuesday through Friday from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. (closed Mondays).

USS Constitution enters dry dock for inspections, repairs and restorations roughly once every twenty years. While Constitution is in dry dock, visitors to Charlestown Navy Yard will have the rare opportunity of viewing the ship's entire exposed hull, including her fabled copper plating and keel comprised of original wood utilized during the ship's initial construction from 1795-1797.

During the ship's public tour hours, visitors will have the opportunity to board Old Ironsides and tour the ship's top (spar) deck. USS Constitution crew members will be stationed aboard the ship, dockside and inside the USS Constitution Museum adjacent to Dry Dock 1 to explain and answer questions about Constitution's history, talk about the ongoing restoration and repair work, and share how Old Ironsides has been restored in the past.

To coincide with Constitution's upcoming dry docking, All Hands, the official magazine of the U.S. Navy, recently launched a specialized web page, 'I Am Old Ironsides', to enhance visitors' virtual experience of America's Ship of State. The page can be found at, and offers users a large range of information about the ship in an easily-accessible format.

The web page includes a virtual tour of Old Ironsides, a 360-degree view of the crew's officer and enlisted 1813 uniforms, and includes various photo galleries such as 'Face of the Navy', 'Last Ride', and 'Sailing into History'.

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. USS Constitution is scheduled to be dry docked in Charlestown Navy Yard in May 2015 for a three-year planned restoration period.

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