Posted on November 13, 2006
Anyone that goes down to the sea in ships has to love this pic:
Note the sailors “doffing their caps,” against VADM “Rat” Williard’s returned salute as he goes aboard the oldest commissioned warship in the US Navy, the USS Constitution. “Old Ironsides” is a 44-gun heavy frigate that brought our infant navy respectful recognition during the War of 1812 from Britain, far and away the dominant maritime power of the day.
We’re lucky to have her, as there was a move afoot during the lean post-war years to strike her from the lists and break her up. A young Oliver Wendell Homes took umbrage, dashed off a poem that was immediately published to patriotic acclamation and which saved her for posterity:
Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon’s roar; –
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more.
Her deck, once red with heroes’ blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o’er the flood,
And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor’s tread,
Or know the conquered knee; –
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!
Oh, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
The lightning and the gale!
The ship still gets underway – and under sail – a couple of times every year for a “turnaround” cruise to put the opposite side to the pier. I’d pay to go on one of those and envy Bostonians the opportunity to compete in that lottery, if for nothing else in particular. She’s only manned to raise five sails when she gets underway although she carries eleven. God alone knows how well she’d wear them after all these years.
And mixing old and new, here’s a pleasing shot of the Navy’s newest jet flying from her oldest carrier:
Anyways, seeing a Rhino getting through the number is nearly a rare enough thing to devote its own page too.
Yeah. You could consider that a snark from a grounded Charlie pilot.