Soon You Can Tour the USS Constitution from Behind Your Desk

Google went and snapped photos of 'Old Ironsides' as part of its Google Maps virtual tour project.

“Old Ironsides” will be dry-docked in the Charlestown Navy Yard for the next three years undergoing necessary repairs, severely restricting visitors who want to learn more about the boat’s history from accessing certain parts of the ship.

But that doesn’t mean people won’t be able to get a complete tour of the historic vessel.

On Tuesday, the US Navy announced that they teamed up with Google Maps to create a “virtual tour” of the USS Constitution as part of the search engine giant’s continued efforts to give more people an on-the-ground view of notable places from around the world.

“This capability will be especially important while most areas of the ship are inaccessible during her restoration,” said Commander Sean Kearns, the USS Constitution’s 73rd commanding officer.

According to details, the USS Constitution, a 216-year-old warship that annually attracts thousands of curious visitors interested in getting a glimpse of a floating piece of Boston’s history, will be added to a special list of historic landmarks that Google Maps has made available, lumping the ship into a category of online tours alongside places like the Taj Mahal and the Louvre Museum.

On Monday, a Google photographer stopped by the ship, which is docked in Charlestown near the USS Constitution Museum, so that the company could start compiling the images to create a 360-degree experience using Google Maps with Street View.

“The USS Constitution is a national treasure. Since she will be unavailable for a few years, we want to make her available for viewers from all over,” said Curt Fennell, a Google Maps Systems Administrator.

“Old Ironsides,” which got its name due to its sturdy wooden body and ability to deflect incoming cannonballs fired at its sides during the War of 1812 against the British, is scheduled to go into dry-dock beginning in 2015, with restorations to the ship’s structure expected to last three years.

The vessel took its last trip through the Boston Harbor in August, firing off a 21-gun salute for people watching from Castle Island. As it undergoes restorations, workers will use blueprints to get the ship to look as close to as it did in 1812, and will reinforce its exterior to make it “seaworthy,” according to reports.

Gary Foreman, manager of gallery operations at the USS Constitution Museum, a non-profit organization headquartered just yards from where the ship will be berthed beginning next year, said having the virtual tour accessible to anyone that wants to take a peek at the ship’s interior will help promote the history of Boston, and educate the general public.

“I think it’s pretty neat,” he said, adding that Google Maps added the museum to their online tours two years ago. “They did a great job with our museum, and I’m sure it will be great for the ship. It will enhance the ship’s website very, and be great for further exploring the Constitution.”