USS CONSTITUTION was launched on October 21, 1797
I am both proud and impressed by the men and women serving in the world's oldest active Naval vessel: USS Constitution.
First, what a fine duty for our batch of young Sailors -- most of them just last year were still in high school, now they are our representatives in uniform to New England and to the rest of America -- many of whom never will have another opportunity to tour a commissioned Naval warship.
For me, it had been ten long years since I had visited Old Ironsides (last time during the Great Lakes Cruise when USS CLARK visited Boston before heading up the Hudson River to the Great Lakes).
And she looked every bit as inviting and invincible as she did during the period shortly after her 200th birthday. Old Connie, I missed you.
Old Ironsides never lost a battle in 33 bouts -- was given the name during the famous battle with HMS Guerriere when the British cannonballs bounced off the ship's thick oak hull.
Here I'm looking into the scuttlebutt, the ship's drinking fountain, where the crew gathered to talk about the day's events. Today, the term scuttlebutt is regularly used in the Navy, both at sea and ashore -- I know, I personally participated in many of them.
A young petty officer told us interesting tales about how food was stored and prepared. The ship had only one cook who prepared meals for 400-500 men. Each day, one hot meal was served. Meat was heavily salted and stored in the harness cask. I am so thankful for three hots and a cot each day. In fact, I'm extremely thankful for Chicken flavor Ramen, PBJ sandwiches and ice water from a tumbler.
At sea, where bread would become moldy, the crew was rationed ships biscuits (aka "hardtack").
The grog tub contained the daily ration of diluted rum or whiskey -- this was issued daily to allow the toughest meal to go down smooth. (So, I had it hard in today's Navy?)
There are 30 24-pound long guns on deck that weigh about 3 tons each. Their shot can pierce two feet of wood at 100 yards and the 32-pound shot has a kill range of 400 yards.
What a wonderful stop along the Freedom Trail. 2.5 tremendous miles of history and reflection -- now it was time to march back to the hotel and for a run.