The Constellation a 36-gun ship was the second FRIGATE built for the U.S. Navy was launched in 1797, But was the first of the US Navy's original six frigates to go to sea in June of1798 a 36-gun ship launched in 1797.   On Feb. 9, 1799, during the undeclared naval war with France (1798-1800), the ship, under the command of Thomas Truxtun, captured the 40-gun French frigate L'Insurgente. A year later the Constellation engaged another French frigate, the Vengeance. After being rebuilt, the Constellation was used against Confederate commerce raiders during the Civil War.

Photo by Bill McAllen <>

After repairs the Constellation was moved to the Naval Station, Newport, RI, where she served as a stationary training and receiving ship until 1914.

In August of1940 August she was Re-commissioned as shore-based relief flagshipfor the Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet from 1941 until 1943

Photo by Bill McAllen <>

Constellation was moved Nov 17, 1996, from her dock in Baltimore's Inner Harbor to Drydock No. 9 near McHenry National Monument. The move is the initial step in the projected 31 month, $9,000,000 project to conserve and refurbish the hull and rigging; and restore Constellation to her original appearance as a 1854 sloop of war/corvette. Repairs are expected to be the largest private restoration ever of a U.S. ship.

Photo by Bill McAllen <>

Photo by Bill McAllen <>

There appears to be some confusion regarding was she built in 1854 or rebuilt, the "official" Constellation web page states that "U.S.S. Constellation was launched at the Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia in 1854. Bearing the same name as the famous frigate of 1797

From  Andrew Davis Tri-Coastal Marine, Inc.

Regarding the putative controversy regarding the origin of this "Constellation", the so called transcript of an 1853 Portsmouth newspaper article is a fake as are all the other "transcripts" which support that totally bogus pseudo history. An entire history of evidence was manufactured by a single crazed individual with the intent of perpetuating this fraud. The fact that it was a fraud has been perfectly well documented in "Fouled Anchors: The Constellation Question Answered", by Dana M. Wegner, et aliis. This paper was published by the US Navy's David Taylor Research Center ini 1991. This is the definitive, scholarly paper. In addition, in the course of disassembling the vessel for the repair, we have found absolutely no evidence of any material that predates 1853. Let me assure you as a naval architect and former builder of large wooden ships, that the theory of transformation from frigate to corvette that the former owners tried to put forth is completely inconsistent with the physical evidence. Likewise, we have a perfect and continuous naval architectural and engineering record of the design of this vessel starting with John Lenthall's preliminary design drawings. The lines and dimensions of those drawings match perfectly with with existing structure. -- Andrew Davis Tri-Coastal Marine, Inc. tel: (510) 528-9596


From: William Bosanko <william.bosanko@ARCH2.NARA.GOV>

The assertion has been made that the 1854 vessel was completely new and records were created in such a way to give the impression that she was a rehabilitated Constellation in order to get around congessional limitations...Perhaps that was the case, but if so, they had the support of the local press:

February 25 1853 Portsmouth Transcript

"The Constellation~this time honored ship was hauled up one one of the slips at the Navy Yard. She is to be razeed and converted into a first class sloop-of-war, and will be otherwise throughout and extensively repaired..."

Subject: Identity of U.S.S. Constellation
Date: Sat, 9 Jan 1999 18:07:17 -0500
From: Rob Walker <>

To: "''" <>

First, I want to say thank you for the coverage you are giving the current restoration of the U.S.S. Constellation. Whether you argue her to be the oldest U.S. Naval vessel in existence or the last all-sail man-of-war built in the U.S. and last suriving ship of the Civil War, her historical importance is undeniable. It is sad that even the U.S. Navy itself so long neglected her.

It often seems to me that much of the ongoing debate about her identity is a matter of semantics. Ultimately, the arguement seems to hinge upon how much material from the 1797 frigate was incorportated into the 1855 corvette. Those who argue that she should be considered a civil war era sloop-of-war admit solid evidence that some floor timbers and other material from the 1797 frigate were used in construction of the corvette. I am convinced that the current restoration is the appropriate thing: to reconstruct her as a Civil War-era corvette. That is what the ship is, regardless of how much (or how little) material from the frigate was reused. However, because the corvette was built with funds allocated for the rebuild of the frigate, because at least some timbers from the frigate were used in the construction of the corvette, and because the old Constellation was never stricken from the Navy's list of ships, (a wooden, sailing man-of-war called Constellation was continuously listed and never stricken from 1797 unitl 1955) it is wholey appropriate that the corvette now in existence is considered heir not just to the name of the frigate, but to her spirit and traditions. It is ironic to note that if the ship had not so long been identified as the 1797 frigate, she likely would have been broken up or scuttled long ago, and there would be nothing left to reconstruct or debate.


Robert A. Walker, Ph.D.

(a Constellation Guardian)

Biological Anthropologist


Head, Department of Anatomy

New York Chiropractic College

Seneca Falls, NY 13148-0800


Thanks to  Bill McAllen for all the fine photos <>

Offical Constelation Site