Home > Collections & History > Discover Constitution's History > Chronology


1794 March 27   The Naval Armament Act authorizes the construction of six frigates
1794–1797   Under construction at Edmund Hartt's Shipyard, Boston
1797 October 21   USS Constitution launched
1798 July 22   Sails from Boston to Caribbean on first cruise
1798–1801   Quasi-War with France; West India Squadron flagship, 1799–1801
1801–1803   In ordinary and repair, Boston
(To say that a ship was “in ordinary” meant that it was temporarily out of commission in a dry dock or harbor. When ships were placed in ordinary crews removed their masts, rigging, sails, and guns, and stored them ashore.  Today, a ship in a similar state is said to be “mothballed.”)
1803–1805   Barbary War, Mediterranean Squadron flagship
1805–1807   Mediterranean Squadron flagship
1807–1809   Repair in New York
1809–1810   Flagship of the “northern division of ships for the protection of the American coast.”
June 1810–1811   Northern Squadron, Captain Isaac Hull in command
Aug. 1811–Feb. 1812   Voyage to France, England, and Holland
War of 1812:
1812 August 19   Defeats HMS Guerriere
1812 December 29   Defeats HMS Java
1815 February 20   Defeats HMS Cyane & HMS Levant
1816–1821   In ordinary and repair, Boston
1821–1824   Mediterranean Squadron flagship
1824–1828   Mediterranean Squadron
1828–1831   In ordinary, Boston
1832–1835   Undergoes significant refit, Boston
Mar. to June 1835   Voyage to France with Minister to France Edward Livingston
Aug. 1835–July 1838   Mediterranean Squadron flagship
April 1839–Nov. 1841   Pacific Squadron flagship
Nov. 1842–Feb. 1843   Home Squadron flagship
May 1844–Sept. 1846   Around the World Cruise sailed 52,370.5 miles
1846–1848   In ordinary and repair, Boston
Oct. 1848–1851   Mediterranean Squadron
1849 August 1   Pope Pius IX visits ship at Gaeta, Italy
1851–1853   In ordinary and repair, New York
Mar. 1853–June 1855  
African Squadron flagship
3 Nov 1853 Captures slaver H.N. Gambril, Constitution’s last prize
June 1855–July 1857   In ordinary, Portsmouth, NH
July 1857–Aug. 1860   Refit and converted to school ship, Portsmouth, NH
Aug. 1860–Sept. 1871   School ship, U. S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD & Newport, RI
(USS Constitution returned to Annapolis with the Naval Academy Civil War ended)
1871–1872   In ordinary, Philadelphia, PA
1873–Jan. 1877   Refit, Philadelphia, PA
1877   Training ship, Philadelphia, PA
1878–1879   Transports U.S. exhibits to Paris Exposition
1879–1881   Apprentice Training Squadron
1881–1882   In ordinary, New York
1882–1897   Receiving ship, Portsmouth, NH
Sept. 1897   Returns to Boston for 100th birthday
1897–1906   On exhibition, Boston
1906–1907   Restoration
1907–1926   On exhibition
1927–1931   Restoration
1931–1934   National Cruise (three-coast tour), returns to Boston
On exhibition in Boston
1940 August 24   Named symbolic flagship of U.S. fleet
1947   150th birthday
1949–1954   Repair
1954 July 3   Boston designated as homeport by Congressional Act, Public Law 523
1973–1976   Restoration
On exhibition in Boston
1976 April 8   USS Constitution Museum opens in Building #22, Charlestown Navy Yard
1976 July   Leads Tall Ships parade, Queen Elizabeth II visits for national bicentennial
1992–1996   Restoration
July 21   Sails for the first time in 116 years
October 21   USS Constitution's bicentennial
1998   USS Constitution Bicentennial Salute
July 23–26   (International ships salute USS Constitution's extraordinary career)
2007-2010   Restoration to return ship closer to 1812 appearance
2012   Bicentennial of the War of 1812
August 19   Sails to Presidents Roads in Boston Harbor to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the victory over HMS Guerriere

For Further Reading

Desy, Margherita. "Constitution: Where was she at 100?" Nautical Research Journal 42, no. 3 (September 1997): 145–153.

Marden, Luis. "Restoring Old Ironsides." National Geographic 191, no. 6 (June 1997): 38–53.

Martin, Tyrone G. Creating a Legend. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Tyron Publishing Co., 1997.

_____. A Most Fortunate Ship. Annapolis, Maryland: The Naval Institute Press, 1997.

_____. Undefeated: Old Ironsides in the War of 1812. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Tyron Publishing Co., 1997.

Morrison, Christopher H. "Technical Aspects of Preparing 'Old Ironsides' to Sail Again." Nautical Research Journal 42, no. 3 (September 1997): 154–61.

Rand, Anne Grimes. "'Old Ironsides' in War in Peace." The New England Journal of History. 53, no. 1 (Spring 1996): 14–31.