USS Constitution Takes One Last Lap Around the Harbor Until 2018

It will be dry-docked for three years to undergo necessary restoration and repairs.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Victoria Kinney

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Victoria Kinney

“Old Ironsides” set sail in the Boston Harbor on Friday for the last time until 2018, firing its guns for spectators and saying farewell prior to its temporary hiatus for some much-needed repairs.

The next time the ship makes an appearance on the open seas—three years from now—it will have a brand-new look, after workers take on the task of restoring the USS Constitution back to its former glory. Using a set of blueprints from a ship similar to Old Ironsides, they will go about reinforcing its exterior by swapping out copper on the ship’s hull, and replacing wood planks on board. The restoration project will also include other general repairs to the moving parts on deck.

As it bid adieu Friday, Navy officials aboard the ship regaled the crowd on the coastline with a 21-gun salute fired from Fort Independence on Castle Island, in South Boston, followed by a 17-gun salute off of the U.S. Coast Guard Base nearby.

According to details about the restoration process, the ship is scheduled to re-locate from Pier 1 to Dry Dock 1 in the Charlestown Navy Yard beginning in March of 2015. Officials said this fall and winter season will be the last time for people to get a complete tour of the USS Constitution before some segments of the ship are roped off.

Fans of the old-time ship, which is the oldest commissioned war vessel still afloat in the entire world, aren’t completely out of luck, though. The U.S. Navy recently announced that they teamed up with Google Maps to capture images of those areas—both inside and out—so that visitors can take a complete virtual tour of Old Ironsides from the comfort of their computer desks.