Constellation, First Class Sloop of War. 1871-today

May 12, 2017

Maryland USA
Somewhere near Annapolis Maryland in 1871; this is the earliest known photograph of the First Class Sloop of War Constellation. She had just received a major refit in 71. A 100pd Parrot rifle and an 11" Dahlgren were placed on her gun deck with corresponding enlarged gunports. Her 8" shell guns were replaced with 9" Dahlgrens. All for training purposes. A bridge-deck was installed just forward of the mizzen, over the wheel. As this command post was built and looked like a bridge, the name stuck and to this day the command post of a ship is called the bridge, though it no longer looks like one.
In 1888 she was refit again. According to her sail plan drawing, the rake in her masts was reduced. From here on, her tops, caps, trestle-trees, etc would all appear to nose-down as they were still fitted to the old rake. Here she is at Portsmouth New Hampshire where the refit took place.

She was re-stationed at New Port Rhode Island in the 1890's. Her we see she had a normal rectangular main hatch, 8" deck planking, and a couple of her fold-down bulwarks are still in place back aft.

By 1914 she was officially USS Constellation (USS wasn't officially used until 1901). The idea that she was the old frigate rebuilt had also taken hold, and she was gussied up for the anniversary of the bombardment of Fort McHenry. Here she is around that time, in Philly I think. You can see she has narrower deck planking now, almost yacht-like. Her bridge is gone, but the companionways over either bulwark remain as access to the boats. Also note the new shape of her main hatch.

Period guns were barrowed from the Constitution for the occasion. So it could be said she was armed with 24 pounders for a short time.
In this profile you can see how the tops and mast fittings lean forward because the mast no longer rake back. The next shot shows how thin the tops were, possible because they are sandwiched between the "sleepers" on top and the cross-trees and trestle-trees below. A lot of interesting rigging details are visible, but as she's not rigged to sail, some things are missing.
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Unlike this image where she was sailing...

In New York, 1901

In dry-dock, 1904. Lots of interesting details; upper masts lowered through the main-yard trusses, folding-bulwarks forward, and other stuff.

At the bulkhead with Olympia

I have more, but I need to resize them for the forum to take them.
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May 12, 2017

Maryland USA
Three images of a set thought to be the only images of the ship actually sailing, and the last time she did sail, around 1893.
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Cadets training on the bowsprit. Note the folding bulwark panel removed from the left, and lying on deck left off center.

In 1946 she wound up in Charleston Navy Yard in Boston, alongside Constitution were she basically rotted. It was planned to restore the ship, but the funding wasn't there.
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She was hauled out and evaluated. She was hogging so badly rope trusses were set up in her to hold her up.

She was decommissioned on February 4th, 1955, and was going to be scuttled at sea.

But the city of Baltimore, convinced this was the frigate built there in 1797, lobbied to get the ship to restore her as the frigate. The Navy, with pressure to save the "first ship of the US Navy" was glad let someone else foot the bill.. so she was loaded into a floating drydock and towed to Baltimore.
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In these pictures you can see the pipe for the head, ie: the poop-chute, the lower portion of which is missing. Note the head carvings. For most of her life, from her launch in 1855 to the 1890s, these carvings were painted black with a white stripe through it, or just black at times. For a time she was all black and gilded carvings. When she emerged from her latest restoration the carvings were gilded. Eventually the white stripe was painted through the ehad again as that's how she appeared through the 1860's and it's probably cheaper to maintain than gold leaf.
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The forward folding bulwarks were still on the ship when she came to Baltimore in '55. The aft ones were long gone. Many of the cast bronze hinges were tossed into the bilges during her "restoration" as a frigate, and were recovered during her restoration to a sloop of war.
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The hammock rails are made of tall hammock irons wainscotted which was common practice when the ship was built. At the entry port she had carved board on either side of it.
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While studying her rig for my model, I found the main tops'l braces attached to a ring that slid on the mizzen topmast above the mizzen tops'l yard's parrel. Further investigation of photos of other ships, mostly Civil War images, showed this same ring attachment on most US ships, even frigates, and the braces were NOT attached to the mizzen topmast stay as assumed. I found references to this in Luce's Seamanship, but I've yet to see what the ring itself actually looked like.
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The Navy had gone to chain and iron fittings where ever possible by the time Constellation was built. She has iron patent trusses on her lower yards, and iron parrels and trusses on her tops'l yards. Wire rope was just coming into use, but Constellation didn't get it, and as far as I can tell, never did, though her deadeyes and lanyards were replaced with an early form of turn-buckle for a time.
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The fores'l and tack at the bumpkin

So, if you've wasted your money buying that crappy Artesia Latinia Constellation kit, and want to try to save face by bashing it into something more accurate, the above images should be of some help.
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