Saturday, October 21, 2006

Old Ironsides

On October 21, 1797, the USS Constitution was launched in Boston, Massachusetts. It is arguably one of the most famous ships in the Navy, if not the most famous. It is the oldest U.S. Navy ship in commission, and since the only older commissioned ship in the world, HMS Victory, is drydocked, it is the oldest commissioned ship afloat.

Built with planks up to seven inches thick, Constitution was able to withstand many of the heavy British broadsides during the War of 1812, and earned the nickname "Old Ironsides."

The U.S. Army First Armored Division, currently deployed to Iraq, was formed in 1940. When searching for a nickname for the division in 1941, the commander was inspired by a painting of Constitution and the "Old Ironsides" nickname, along with an illustrious and famous fighting history.

Old Ironsides' launching is not the only significant event on this day. Eight years later, on October 21, 1805, the British fleet under Lord Nelson, annihilated the Franco-Spanish fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar without losing a single ship, arguably the most famous battle in Naval history. Happy Trafalgar Day!

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