Launched in 1854 from the Chesapeake Bay's Gosport Navy Yard at Portsmouth, Virginia, USS Constellation served her country for 100 years before her final decommissioning in 1955. Prior to the Civil War she sailed as flagship of the US African Squadron intercepting slave ships. During the Civil War she was charged with chasing confederate raiders, and she was a training ship for midshipmen at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis from 1871 to 1893. The ship was brought to Baltimore in 1955 for restoration. Today, the USS Constellation offers a wide range of activities and demonstrations which provide visitors with a first-hand experience of what life was like on a 19th century man-of-war.
The ships of Historic Ships in Baltimore are open daily during the following hours with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day:
March through May from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm
June, July & August from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on Sunday through Thursday & from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm on Friday and Saturday
September & October from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm
November through March from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm
(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)
Visitors may choose to visit any one ship, any two ships, or all four ships. Fees vary for each ship and discounts are given for multiple tickets. Please visit the website for full details.
Admission to the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse is free to all visitors.
With the beginning of the War of 1812 imminent, the USS frigate Constellation was dispatched to Hampton Roads, Virginia, near Norfolk.
With four forts, Norfolk was the best-defended city in Virginia during the war. Yet the British Royal Navy used nearby Lynnhaven Bay as a primary anchorage for their ships.
From there, the British conducted their blockade at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
They had their eye on several prime military targets in this region: the naval shipyard at Portsmouth, the city of Norfolk, and the Constellation, which was anchored in the Elizabeth River.
The British made only one attempt to threaten these targets, and American forces scored a rare early victory at the Battle of Craney Island on June 22, 1813.
However, the British blockade bottled up the Constellation in the Elizabeth River, where it remained for the rest of the war.
Several different tours are available, including a "powder monkey tour" where children (10 and older) can learn about the lives of young boys who served on the ship during the Civil War.
A museum sits on the pier beside the ship.
Due to the nature of their construction, portions of the Historic Ships may not be accessible to visitors with limited mobility.
Please feel free to call ahead and let us know that you are coming. We will do our best to ensure that your visit is rewarding and without difficulty.