The USS ConstellationMy sister and I are visiting my brother and his wife a bit north of Baltimore. Today Lynn and I went down to the Inner Harbor where we made a reconnaissance visit to the Maryland Science Center. A luncheon date with our sister-in-law forced a rushed survey of the numerous exhibits, many interactive, and we know we need to go back to do the place justice.
After lunch, we took a leisurely tour of the USS Constellation. As part of the price of admission, visitors are supplied with audio wands that enable self-paced orientation to the ship's layout and operation. (There are 23 stops on the adult audio tour, 15 on the tour for families with children.)
The Constellation the last sail-powered vessed built by the US Navy was launched at Portsmouth, Virginia, in 1854 and commissioned in 1855. It is the only naval vessel active in the Civil War (mostly in the Mediterranean) that is still afloat.
Prior to the Civil War, the ship was used to intercept vessels engaged in illegal slave trading in the waters off west Africa. In later years, the Constellation was used by the US Naval Academy (1871-1893) and the Naval Training Station in Newport RI (1894-1933) to train midshipmen and enlisted personnel, respectively. A summary of the Constellation's operational history is here.
For anyone who, like me, is fascinated by all things maritime, I cannot recommend highly enough a visit to the Constellation. If time permits, you can also have a look at the US Coast Guard Cutter Taney, the Lightship Chesapeake, the submarine USS Torsk, and the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse. All are part of the Baltimore Maritime Museum.