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      1. CV 64 | USS CONSTELLATION

        CV 64

        Namesake:

        Legacy Name

        The name Constellation is one of the most famous in U.S. naval history. The first ship to be commissioned in the United States Navy; the first to put to sea; and the first to engage, defeat and capture an enemy vessel was the three-masted U.S. Frigate CONSTELLATION.

        It started on March 27, 1794, when a special act of Congress provided for building the U.S. Navy its first new ships. The six frigates were given symbolic names which the new country could rally around — names such as CONSTITUTION, CONGRESS, CHESAPEAKE, UNITED STATES, and PRESIDENT. But the first to be commissioned received the name held in highest esteem by the fledgling Congress — the name for the “new constellation of stars” on the American flag.

        The USF CONSTELLATION was built at Harris Creek Shipyard in Baltimore’s Fells Point. She was designed with a main battery of 36 guns, had a crew complement of 340 men, and displaced 1,278 tons with a beam of 41 feet and length of 164 feet.

        On September 7, 1797, CONSTELLATION was launched just in time as the United States entered its first naval war. The “Quasi War” (1798-1801) with France was largely CONSTELLATION’s war. On February 9, 1799, CONSTELLATION fought and captured the 36-gun frigate L’INSURGENTE, the fastest ship in the French Navy. Under the command of the legendary Captain Thomas Truxtun, it was the first battle by one of the original six frigates. This great achievement for a young U.S. Navy was the first major victory by an American-designed and American-built warship.

        There were many more victories to follow. CONSTELLATION fought a second single-ship action in February 1800: a night encounter with France’s 54-gun frigate LA VENGEANCE. CONSTELLATION was again victorious, winning a bloody and violent 5-hour battle. French sailors, amazed at her expert sailing ability because she could attain the thrilling speed of 14 knots while sailing under nearly an acre of canvas sails, nicknamed her “Yankee Racehorse.”

        CONSTELLATION continued to serve with distinction in the Barbary Wars against Tripoli and the War of 1812 against Great Britain. In 1840, CONSTELLATION completed a historic voyage around the world, which included being the first U.S. warship to enter the inland waters of China. After more than 50 years of service, CONSTELLATION was thoroughly worn out. In 1853 she was broken up at the Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk, Va.

        But the name of CONSTELLATION would live on. In 1854, the U.S. Sloop of War CONSTELLATION was launched from Gosport. With similar dimensions to her famous predecessor, she carried 23 guns and had a crew compliment of 20 officers, 220 Sailors and 45 Marines.

        The new ship’s first assignment was interdicting the slave trade off the coast of Africa. She captured three slave ships and released the imprisoned slaves. At the outbreak of the Civil War, CONSTELLATION made the first Union Navy capture, overpowering the slaver brig TRITON in coastal waters off Africa.

        After the war, CONSTELLATION saw various duties such as carrying famine relief stores to Ireland and carrying precious American works of art to the Paris Exposition of 1895.

        After being used as a practice ship for U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen, CONSTELLATION became a training ship in 1894 for the Naval Training Center in Newport, R.I., where she helped train more than 60,000 recruits during World War I.

        Decommissioned in 1933, CONSTELLATION was recommissioned as a national symbol in 1940 by President Franklin Roosevelt. Shortly after the country’s entry into World War II, she became the flagship for Admiral Ernest J. King and Vice Admiral Royal Ingersoll.

        The treasured warship was decommissioned in 1955 and was taken “home” to her permanent berth in Baltimore Harbor. Now a National Historic Landmark, she is the last existing Civil War-era naval vessel and the last sail-powered warship built by the U.S. Navy. Coincidentally, just as the aircraft carrier USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) was beginning her 19th overseas deployment, the U.S. Sloop of War CONSTELLATION completed a $9-million restoration project in July 1999. The restoration will allow a new generation of Americans to learn about the important role CONSTELLATION had in our nation’s history.

        Historical Notes:


        The second Constellation (CVA-64) was built by New York Naval Shipyard, Brooklyn, N.Y.; christened 8 October 1960 by Mrs. C. A. Herter, wife of the Secretary of State and commissioned 27 October 1961, Captain T. J. Walker, in command. Constellation was damaged by fire while under construction.

        Redesignated as a multimission carrier (CV 64) 30 June 1975, she was subsequently modified to operate ASW aircraft. Her Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) modernization was conducted at Philadelphia Navy Yard from July 1990 to 3 March 1993.

        Constellation had been scheduled to replace Independence in Japan in 1998 and serve through 2008, but was found to be in worse condition than Kitty Hawk. She is now scheduled to decommission in 2003, and will be replaced by CVN-76.

        Ship's Crest:

        Supporters: Not yet available

        The Shield: Not yet available

        The Crest: Not yet available

        Motto: Not yet available

        PHOTOS

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