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USS Constitution to Get Underway for Final Time Until 2018

USS Constitution sets sail in Boston Harbor during the ship's second and final chief petty officer heritage week underway demonstration of 2014. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Victoria Kinney/Released)

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. -- USS Constitution will get underway in Boston Harbor on Friday, Oct. 17, in commemoration of the U.S. Navy's 239th birthday and the ship's upcoming 217th birthday.

More than 500 guests, made up of individuals and organizations with long-standing ties of support to both the ship and the Navy, will accompany Old Ironsides on her fifth and final underway demonstration of 2014. This will also be the historic warship's final Boston Harbor underway until 2018, as she is scheduled to enter dry dock in March 2015 for a three-year planned restoration period.

The ship is scheduled to get underway at 10 a.m. EST. There will be a 21-gun salute off Fort Independence on Castle Island in South Boston at approximately 11 a.m. Constitution Sailors will also conduct an additional 17-gun salute near U.S. Coast Guard Base Boston prior to the ship's 1 p.m. return to her berth at Charlestown Navy Yard.

Due to the post-underway commencement of large-scale dry dock preparations, including de-rigging and removal of the ship's upper masts and offloading the ship's long guns, Constitution will be open for public tours from Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting the week of Oct. 20.

Below is a summary of the restoration work planned for USS Constitution from 2015-2018:

Fall 2014/Spring 2015 - CONSTITUTION ENTERS DRY DOCK

* Remove CONSTITUTION's upper mast sections, yards and bowsprit

* Remove all guns, ballast & rudder

* CONSTITUTION enters dry dock 1 in Charlestown Navy Yard

* Install staging, then remove copper from hull below the waterline

2015 - 2017 - ONGOING INSPECTION AND REPAIRS 

* Inspect hull and replace hull planks as needed

* Inspect rigging and replace as needed

* Inspect and preserve fighting tops for all three masts

2016-2017 - ONGOING PRESERVATION PROJECTS

* Preserve all masts and yards

* Preserve ship's wheel & headboards 

* Preserve gun carriages

* Preserve ship's boats

2016 - FOCUS ON BOW (front of Ship)

* Replace planking in bow

* Inspect and repair trail-boards at bow

2017 - FOCUS ON STERN (back of Ship)

* Remove, inspect, replace and repair ship's stern ornamentation

* Repairs to Captain's Cabin

2017 - CONSTITUTION RETURNS TO THE WATER

* Replace planking on gun deck and berth deck (lower decks)

* Install rudder

* Re-copper ship's hull beneath the waterline

* Reef out and re-caulk spar deck (top deck)

* Refloat ship 

* Re-rig ship once afloat and return guns and furniture

Spring/Summer 2018 - CONSTITUTION RETURNS TO PIER 1, CHARLESTOWN NAVY YARD

Note: All dates subject to change as the actual conditions of USS Constitution are inspected and discovered.

USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat, actively defended sea lanes against global threats from 1797 to 1855. Now a featured destination on Boston's Freedom Trail, Constitution and her crew of U.S. Navy Sailors offer community outreach and education about the ship's history and the importance of naval seapower to more than 500,000 visitors each year.

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