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USS Constitution - 2007 - 2010 Restoration

This section documents the recent restoration which was started in 2007 and completed in 2010.

Click the image for a larger view.

Bow Chasers

In the 2007-2010 restoration, the upper (spar) deck had to be completely replaced; all the replica carronades and bow chasers (pictured), cast in the 1927 restoration, had to be removed.

Double Dolphin Striker

Constitution was down-rigged to her lower masts and her bowsprit (the angled spar to the right in the photo). Here the double dolphin striker that is positioned between the bowsprit and the jibboom is being removed. The dolphin striker is rigged to help counteract the tension from stays aloft and helps to hold down the jibboom by a line called a "martingale".


The catheads, large bow timbers used when raising the anchors, were replaced. This is the new cathead being lowered into the opening in the starboard bow bulwark.

Main Top

The main top is the largest platform aloft and is used to spread and brace the standing rigging for the upper masts. It was refurbished in the 2007-2010 restoration and here it is being re-installed.

During battle, Marine sharpshooters would have been stationed in the “fighting” tops to fire down upon the enemy’s deck.

Spar Deck Caulking

The spar (upper) deck was replaced between the summers of 2008 and 2009. Solid Douglas fir was laid as the center planking (in the 1790s when Constitution was built, this area of deck planking would have been “heart pitch pine”) and ~7’ of laminated white oak was laid at the outer edges to support the weight of the spar deck guns.

Ship Smithing

Much of the iron work needed for the 2007-2010 restoration was handmade in the NHHC Detachment Boston ship smith shop.

Cutting Open Waist Bulwarks

The mission of the NHHC Detachment Boston is to restore Constitution, as far as practicable, to her War of 1812 period. One of the goals of the 2007-2010 restoration was to open the "waist" bulwarks, the upper hull that flanks either side of the large main hatch set into the spar deck. This area of the bulwarks was open, with hammock netting, in 1812 and so it was important to restore that look to Constitution. A chain saw was used to cut through the white oak horizontal planking and the live oak framing.

Removing a Section of Upper Bulwark

Each three-layer section of bulwark weighed about 1,800 pounds. All of this hull material was relatively new to Constitution, having been replaced several times in the 20th century.

Open Waist with Hammock Netting

Here is the waist of the ship, open and finished off with handmade, U-shaped hammock irons (called “cranes”), through which has been tied hammock netting. During battle, the crews’ hammocks would be stowed in this netting, thereby providing protection to the men from sharpshooters and shrapnel. When loading goods and guns on and off the ship, the hammock cranes and netting were removable so that there would be complete access to the main hatch – the largest opening to below decks on the ship.

214th Anniversary of USS Constitution's launch, 21 October 2011

Early Restoration History  |   1992 - 1996 Restoration  |   2007 - 2010 Restoration  |   Home