USS Constellation reopens Friday at Inner Harbor after restoration

March 13, 2015

After five months in a dry dock for a $2 million restoration, Baltimore’s 161-year-old tall ship, the USS Constellation, reopens Friday for visitation at Pier 1 in the Inner Harbor.

The Constellation – a National Historic Landmark – is the descendant of another ship of the same name that was first launched from the Sterrett Shipyard in Baltimore in 1797 and served as flagship of the Navy’s African Squadron, which between 1859 and 1861 rescued more than 3,700 slaves and arrested their captors.

Portions of the ship’s planking installed during a previous restoration in the late 1990s were found rotting during a routine maintenance check in 2011. Fresh water had slipped into gaps in the top of the laminated panels near the ship’s water line and began eating away at the wood.

Ex-offenders made up about half of the crew repairing the ship at the Coast Guard’s Curtis Bay shipyard, according to Living Classrooms, which uses the ship as a floating museum and educational space.
The historic sloop-of-war was due to return to the Inner Harbor last month, but was delayed by weather.