Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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USS Constellation (1855-1955) 

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Constellation (1855-1955) 

USS Constellation (1855-1955), a sloop designed by John Lenthall and constructed at the Gosport Navy Yard, was commissioned on 28 July 1855 and departed under Captain Charles H. Bell for a 3-year cruise with the Mediterranean Squadron to protect American interests. While on station, USS Constellation (1855-1955) was dispatched to protect American lives and property at Malaga, Spain, in July 1856 during a revolution in that country. While cruising in the Sea of Marmora the same year, she rescued a barque in distress, and received an official message in appreciation from the court of the Austrian emperor.

USS Constellation (1855-1955) was detached from the Mediterranean Squadron on 17 April 1858 and after a brief cruise in Cuban waters where she safeguarded American commerce against unlawful search on the high seas, returned to the New York Navy Yard on 5 June. USS Constellation (1855-1955) was then decommissioned at Boston on 13 August. Re-entering active service in June 1859 as flagship of the African Squadron, USS Constellation (1855-1955) took station off the mouth of the Congo River on 21 November 1859.

On 19 April 1861, one week after Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring a blockade of southern ports and on 2 May called for the enlistment of 18,000 additional seamen. Ordered home in August 1861, USS Constellation (1855-1955), Captain Thomas A. Dornin in command, reached Portsmouth (New Hampshire) Navy Yard on 28 September, but soon received orders to the Mediterranean. USS Constellation (1855-1955) finished the Civil War as a Receiving Ship at Norfolk, a duty she performed there, and later at Philadelphia, until 1869.

Recommissioned on 25 May 1871, she took midshipmen (also classed as “naval cadets” at varying periods) on their summer training cruises for the next twenty-two years. During her assignment at the Naval Academy, USS Constellation (1855-1955) received several special missions that punctuated her training regimen. On 1 December 1917, to clear the name USS Constellation (1855-1955) for assignment to a projected battle cruiser authorized on 29 August 1916, the ship was renamed Old Constellation. She reverted to her original name on 24 July 1925 when the battle cruiser was scrapped under the provisions of the Washington Treaty for the Limitation of Naval Armaments. On 16 June 1933 a Navy Department order placed USS Constellation (1855-1955) in a decommissioned status for preservation as a naval relic.

For a complete history of USS Constellation (1855-1955) please see its DANFS page.