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Escape to Panama
Page 2

USS Constitution, Old Ironsides, the oldest commissioned ship in the US Navy and the only ship in the US Navy that was never defeated in over 42 engagements... She also has the distinction of having locked through the Panama Canal.

Old Ironsides

Yes, old Ironsides is the only ship in the US Navy that was never defeated in over 42 engagements. Now in an historical engagement during the war of 1812 Old Ironsides took on the HMS Java off Brazil. Although the USS Constitution suffered 40 casualties, the Brits took 139 casualties. She has indeed been a blessed ship. Now for a little story....

When I transferred off the USS Manley DD-940, I went to the USS Vogelgesang DD-862. These were both navy destroyers (Tin Cans). The first was of the Forrest Sherman Class and the latter was of the Gearing Class. The Vogelgesang was undergoing yard work at Charlestown Navy Yard. We were located at the bottom of Bunker Hill.... and we all know what happen there. Well, since the ship was really being worked on we stayed in a barracks in the yards. It was all open bays back then. The USS Constitution was just a few blocks away. I went aboard her a couple of times.

I also hung out at the Morningside Bar and Grill. They served delicious subs, breakfast links and Sunnyside eggs with grits… grits in Boston? Well, the owner a southern boy had retired from the Navy while his ship was in Boston. He probably was in his 60's.... Back then I was only 18. So anybody over 30 was ancient! Not now. He really had some sea stories to tell. He had gone through the Panama Canal quite a few times.... just like many of us. That is one thing about going to sea... you really get to see the world with your Uncle Sam.

Today, all these people who book cruises and I always say wow, I have been there and done that with my Uncle Sam. I remember back in the 80's one could book passage on a tramp freighter going to the South China Seas or wherever there was cargo. I don't know if these freelance shippers still exist. But a friend of mine did just that. Then the old Banana boats also had steady service from Panama to the United States and the port at New Orleans.

In the mid 70's I lived in Baltimore, Maryland for 1-1/2 years before moving to Alexandria, Virginia. So, I was fortunate to have visited the inner harbor in Baltimore and did do ship's visit on the Constellation. But Old Ironsides will always be my favorite. The sailors who man her are on active duty. While on active duty on the USS Vogelgesang DD-862, I inquired about a transfer to the USS Constitution but having very little time onboard the "Vogie" I was turned down. Probably the only way I would have been able to do it was on a swap. But most sailors on Old Ironsides were too happy and not thinking of going anywhere.

SO, I visited her when I could to check out the girls who also went where the boys are.... For many years I carried a ship's coin from Old Ironsides but on a lengthy deployment I misplaced it. The repairs over time have been made to her hull from Naval Oaks that are grown near Pensacola Naval Air Station. Yes, the ship that was built when ships were wooden and men were made of Iron. She sits quite majestically in the water. It is really a must see for anybody who visits Boston.

The USS Constitution, Old Ironsides, the oldest US Navy ship in commission riding easy in Boston Harbor.

Key facts:

* Active service from 1797 to present
* Classified a 44-gun frigate had 54 cannons
* Survived 42 Battles
* Never was defeated
* Destroyed or captured 32 enemy ships
* 21 inch thick wooden hull
* Length 204 feet
* Beam 43 feet - 6 inches
* Displaces 2,400 tons
* Mast 220 feet high
* 36 sails- 42,720 square feet
* Original cost $303,718.84 in 1797 dollars
* $12 Million restoration cost
* Speed 13 knots under full sail
* National Tour 1931 -1934, went through the Panama Canal

The USS Constitution, Old Ironsides, moored at the visitor's pier in Boston Harbor.

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Tocumen Forecast

Are you ready to shove off? Stay with me for it will be an escape to remember. The word has been passed to single up all lines... we are on our way...

Escape to Panama... a lost tropical paradise at 9 degrees above the equator… Panama at the cross roads of world commerce in the heart of the universe… Panama more than just a canal… What a place to get away from it all... Just do it... you will be glad you did!!!

Old Salts telling sea stories

I can remember back in 06 when I took a little cruise down to Panama. Talk about friendly people... the Panamanians are the most friendliest people in the world. Yes indeed... great liberty.... scuttlebutt has it we are on our way to Panama to show the flag.

Now here is a great story my Great-great Grandfather told about when he served on Old Ironsides

On 23 August 1779, the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) set sail from Boston loaded with 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of water, 74,000 cannon shot, 11,500 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum. Her mission: to destroy and harass the English shipping. On 6 October, she made Jamaica, took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. Three weeks later the USS Constitution made a port call in the Azores. Here she took on the following provisions; 550 pounds of beef and 6,300 gallons of Portuguese wine.

On 18 November, the ship set sail for England where her crew captured and scuttled 12 English merchant vessels and liberated their rum.

After this engagement the USS Constitution found itself without cannon shot. Nevertheless, she made her way unarmed up the Firth of Clyde for a night raid. Here her landing party captured a whiskey distillery, transferred 40,000 gallons aboard and sailed for home.

On 20 February 1780, the USS Constitution arrived in Boston with no cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum, and no whiskey. But the ship still had 48,600 gallons of water.

After Action Report:
Length of cruise - 181 days
Booze Consumption - 2.26 gallons per man per day.(plus whatever amount was rescued from the 12 English Merchant Ships)
Reenlistment rate - 100%
Probable EPA Award of a Gold Certificate for water conservation.

Yes, he use to say that was when ship were built of wood and there were Iron Men who served on them....

(Courtesy of: U.S. Atlantic Command Joint Training Analysis and Simulation Center.)

In Battle

Here Old Ironsides takes on the Guerriere. As the painting by Michel Felice Corne depicts the Guerriere falls astern of the USS Constitution. This is another victory for this great ship...

Little kids love ships! I can remember my visit to the mighty ship "Old Ironsides"... It seems like it was only yesterday. Here is a popular recruiting poster of the 1960's that used this great ship.

The USS Constitution, Old Ironsides, went through the Panama Canal in the mid 30's. All the little kids in the Canal Zone turned out to see her. It was declared a school holiday. Great memories for those who were there!

Saturday morning inspection while the USS Constitution, Old Ironsides, is tied up at pier 18, Balboa, Canal Zone. The year was 1933.

The USS Constitution, under a full set of sails... just awesome is the sight.

An artist's rendition of Old Ironsides, under full sail with guns firing.

The USS Constitution, Old Ironsides, firing the guns... just awesome.

The USS Constitution, Old Ironsides, the oldest US Navy ship in commission in port... Great time for a ship's visit.

You are approaching the USS Constitution, Old Ironsides, for a ship's visit. enjoy your visit.

You were in luck, you witnessed the taking of the annual ships company picture. You even got a few picture of the crew too!

You are below decks. Someone says Petty Officer Wilson, "What is that we are looking at?" Wilson our tour guide says, "It is the Capstain, Sir."

You are now checking out the guns.There are no powder monkeys here.

In this painting by Anton Utto Fischer you see Old Ironsides making a dashing escape for the safety of Boston harbor with a British squadron in hot pursuit. (circa July 1812)

The USS Constitution, Old Ironsides, the oldest US Navy ship in commission riding easy in Boston Harbor.

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