The Scoop Deck

Today in history: ‘A fantastic launching of America’

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (Oct. 18, 2013) Buzz Aldrin, retired NASA astronaut and U.S. Air Force Col., poses for a photo at the helm of USS Constitution with Cmdr. Sean Kearns, Constitution's 73rd commanding officer, during a tour of 'Old Ironsides'. Aldrin, the second person to ever walk on the surface of the moon, was the lunar module pilot on the Apollo 11 moon landing mission on July 21, 1969. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Peter D. Melkus/Released)

Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, poses at the helm of the frigate Constitution on Friday alongside commanding officer Cmdr. Sean Kearns. (Navy photos by MC2 Peter D. Melkus)

On this date in 1797, one of six frigates authorized by the Naval Armament Act of 1794 was launched in Boston.

Safe to say, it outlasted the other five.

The frigate Constitution entered service to battle pirates and protect a young country’s global maritime concerns, but its success during the War of 1812 began a legacy that’s lasted more than two centuries.

It’s impossible to sum up the history of the world’s oldest active commissioned warship afloat in a few words, but this passage from the London Times, courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command’s Constitution website, comes pretty close. Filed shortly after Constitution’s victory over HMS Guerriere in the Aug. 19, 1812, battle that earned the U.S. frigate its “Old Ironsides” nickname, the Brits wrote:

“It is not merely that an English frigate has been taken, after, what we are free to confess, may be called a brave resistance, but that it has been taken by a new enemy, an enemy unaccustomed to such triumphs, and likely to be rendered insolent and confident by them.”

America’s Navy: Rendered confident since 1812.

131018-N-SU274-047 CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (Oct. 18, 2013) Retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin autographs a photo for Cmdr. Sean Kearns, the 73rd commanding officer of USS Constitution, left, and Command Senior Chief Nancy Estrada during a tour of USS Constitution. Aldrin, the second person to walk on the  moon, was the lunar module pilot on the Apollo 11 moon landing mission on July 21, 1969. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Peter D. Melkus/Released)

Aldrin autographs a book for Kearns and Command Senior Chief (SW/AW) Nancy Estrada during his Friday visit to the frigate Constitution.

A recent visitor to the Constitution in Boston called the ship “a fantastic launching of America.”

That man knows a bit about launching: Buzz Aldrin made the comment on his Facebook page Friday, the same day he took a VIP tour of the ship from skipper Cmdr. Sean Kearns.

Aldrin, a retired Air Force colonel, made a fairly famous visit to a different Navy ship in July 1969, when the aircraft carrier Hornet served as Apollo 11′s welcome-home committee.

For more about Constitution, head here. For a bit more about Aldrin, go here.

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