There can be few sights finer than a crew of crisply attired naval men in dazzling whites, lined up on the deck of an immaculately presented warship. The sight inspires awe and respect even in those who know nothing of the sea, of ships or sailors.
If you are, or have ever been in one of the navies of the world, we'd love to hear all about it. What made you sign up for the navy? How long have you been, or were you, in the navy? We bet you've got some great stories to tell, without giving away any state secrets...
Don't worry about whether you're a brilliant writer or not, we can help with the editing - it's what you have to say that
interests us, more than how you say it! We'd love it if you would take a moment to e-mail us. Better still, if you would become a regular contributor to the page...don't wait to see what someone else writes, drop us a line anyway!
A visit to the
frigate USS Constitution
at Charlestown, Boston Harbour, (Massachusetts, USA) and to the museum dedicated to "Old Ironsides" as she was nicknamed by
her sailors when British cannon balls could be seen literally bouncing off her oak planking, during her many sea battles, is very worthwhile, if you get the opportunity.
in Boston in 1797, the USS Constitution returned there finally in 1934 and has been in the Navy Yard ever since.
Retiring US Navy grandees still, apparently, consider it the ultimate honour to take their final tour of duty aboard this magnificently restored and maintained ship which is still in service, being herself a living museum, built in 1797 and undefeated in 40 historic battles.
She still has an annual outing on the fourth of July, although these days it is under tow.
The nearby museum sports an excellent exhibition for visitors of all ages, with interactive displays, wonderful models, many exhibits relating to her distant ports of call and much, much more.
A first-rate museum shop provided your Managing Editor with some inexpensive and handsome souvenirs of a most enjoyable outing, in April 2000.
Incidentally, the USS Constitution, one of the six original frigates authorised by the US Congress in 1794, is generally regarded by
Americans as the most famous ship in the history of the US Navy.
204 feet in length, with a 43.5' beam her hold was 14'3" deep. She
displaced 2200 tons and carried 44 guns.
On June 18th 1812, Congress, without any prior planning or preparation, decided to declare war on Great Britain. The congressmen from the North eastern territories were reluctant to see war declared as they were benefiting from additional export trade as a result of the existing war between Britain and France. They were probably quite right to believe that a war would be a mistake. The British were not unfriendly towards the Americans and there was nothing
to be gained from any such conflict that could not be achieved peacefully once the Franco-British war was over.
The US Navy, in
those days, possessed only sixteen vessels in total, of which half were
frigates and the rest smaller vessels. Since the decision had been made, the US Navy went into battle and USS Constitution restored morale amongst the sailors when she defeated the British frigate 'Gučrriere' of forty-eight guns on the 19th of August 1812.
In 1828 the USS Constitution was condemned as un-seaworthy and it was recommended that she be broken up.
Poet Oliver Wendell Holmes captured the sentiments of the American public with his poem "Old Ironsides" and was instrumental, therefore, in rescuing the ship from destruction.
She was restored as
nearly as possible to her original appearance and characteristics and then, in 1931, embarked upon a three-year cruise, calling at ninety ports in the USA and being visited by four and a half million people eager to see the nation's most historical ship for themselves. We would most certainly visit again when next in Boston.
Have you visited a naval vessel lately? We'd love to hear about your impressions of it...