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Constellation was the name of one of the first six frigates commissioned by the United States Government in 1794. Built in Baltimore, she was completed in 1797.

USF Constellation saw a lot of action in the quasi-War with France, the Barbary Wars, and the War of 1812. In 1840 she sailed around the world.

Now let's stop this wonderful narrative for a bit of personal history. Having grown up in Baltimore, I was always told that the ship docked at Pier I in Baltimore's Inner Harbor was the original 1797 frigate Constellation, the oldest US warship afloat. My earliest memory of the Inner Harbor is touring Constellation and bumping my head on the ceiling belowdecks. People were short then.

So imagine my dismay when it was reported in 1995 that a survey of the Constellation for her recent restoration revealed that this was not the case! Although some of the wood was 200 years old, enough of the wood dated from 1854 for the ship to be designated a "replica".

It was then that the Navy did a search of its records and found that the original Constellation had been in such bad repair that she had been broken up in Gosport, VA in 1854. Some of the wood was used in a corvette that was subsequently built, commissioned as a "Sloop of War", also named Constellation.

Constellation was made a training ship in 1894, decomissioned in 1933 and recomissioned in 1940 for ceremonial duties. It was probably during this time that her history was muddied.

The ship was finally decommissioned in 1955 and towed into Baltimore Harbor. She sat at Pier 1 while the Inner Harbor decayed as a cargo port and was reborn as a tourist destination around her, until 1995 when she was towed to the old naval shipyard at Fort McHenry and given a thorough restoration. She's back at Pier I and can be visited now, if you don't mind the tourist-trap atmosphere and the atrocious visitor center.

Constellation is currently the name of an 88,000-ton US Navy aircraft carrier on active duty.
Source of some of this: http://www.navy.mil/homepages/cv64/information/history/history.htm

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