After nearly a month-long delay, the USS Constitution safely entered the historic Dry Dock 1 at the Charlestown Navy Yard this afternoon, kicking off an anticipated three-year-long restoration.
The job will cost an estimated $12 to $15 million, paid by the US Navy, and will include repairs mainly below the waterline and the bow area, officials said in a press release on Sunday. The main focus of the project will be replacing 3,400 sheets of copper that protect the ship’s hull from wood-boring worms and other sea life, Navy Commander Paul J. Brawley told the Boston Globe.
Enthusiasts have all summer long to leave their mark on the he 217-year-old wooden-hulled frigate: For now, the new copper sheets are being stored at the USS Constitution Museum where visitors are encouraged to sign them in Sharpie before they're installed on the ship.
Starting June 9, the ship's upper deck will be open to visitors at no charge, with Crew members on hand to talk about the restoration and the ship’s history as the only survivor of the U.S. Navy's original six frigates.
"Her mission was to keep the sea lanes open for commerce, fight pirates, land Marines in trouble spots, and prevent the slave trade," said a Navy spokesperson. "The Navy carries out similar missions today. As in the days of sailing warships, today's Navy trains its officers and enlisted personnel to the highest standard, while incorporating the very best designs and materials into its ships. The U.S. Navy's heritage is embodied in the successes and legacies of USS Constitution."
Dry Dock 1 is the second-oldest dry dock in operation in the country, and the Constitution was the first warship to enter it, in June of 1833.