America’s oldest commissioned warship returned to Boston’s waters in shipshape on Sunday night.
The USS Constitution eased into the water at Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston National Historical Park on Sunday evening. The dry dock in which it had been repaired was flooded, according to a statement from the U.S. Navy, and at 11:15 p.m. the ship sailed into Boston Harbor. The Boston Globe reported that about 300 people gathered around the ship to see it hit the waters again, and there was a celebration at the USS Constitution Museum.
The Constitution was named by President George Washington and won three major battles during the War of 1812, where it earned its famous nickname, “Old Ironsides.” Reportedly, a British sailor shouted “Huzza! Her sides are made of iron!” after cannonballs bounced off the ship during the war.
The ship was retired from active military service in 1855, according to History.com. Today, it’s based in the Charlestown Navy Yard where it is a touring national landmark.
Commander Robert Gerosa, commanding officer of the Constitution, said he was proud of the hard work and dedication of his sailors during the restoration, according to a statement from the U.S. Navy.
“This is it, this is what we’ve been striving for the last 26 months,” Gerosa said. “We are again in the water where ships need to be.”
This is nothing new for “Old Ironsides,” as it undergoes repairs about every 20 years. The $12 million restoration process took more than two years to complete — the 100 hull planks were replaced, the ship’s cutwater, or forward edge, was re-built, and the ship’s rigging, upper masts and yards, the spars that hold the sails, were repaired, according to the U.S. Navy.
The ship is expected to continue restoration work at a nearby pier before re-opening to the public in early September.
Christianna Silva is an NPR Digital News intern.