Thanks to The Post for printing Jonathan Newton’s beautiful photo of the arrival of Mexico’s tall ship Cuauhtemoc in Baltimore Harbor [“Oh, say, can they see,” front page, June 14]. This ship, and 45 others from around the world, are there to begin marking the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812.
But there is one ship that should be there, but isn’t, and it is an outrage and insult that it is not. Instead, the ship is gathering barnacles on its hull in a protective anchorage in Boston.
That ship is USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy and the world’s oldest commisioned warship still afloat. It is also the only example of a design still capable of traveling on the oceans by one of the greatest shipwrights who ever touched pen to paper, Joshua Humphries of Philadelphia. Humphries incorporated a diagonal rib design into the Constitution’s hull, which enabled his so-called super-frigates to mount the heaviest, 24-pounder long guns on its gun deck. Neither nature nor man ever sank one of his heavy frigates, and he is the reason the Constitution still exists today.
No doubt, the Navy would argue that it would be too dangerous to risk this ship on the high seas. Well, that ship plied the world’s oceans through every conceivable storm condition imaginable for almost 40 years, and it never left a port in better condition than it is today. With today’s technology and ability to track heavy weather in the Atlantic, I have a hard time believing that Old Ironsides, suitably escorted, couldn’t have made the roundtrip between Boston and Baltimore to help celebrate the beginning of one of the most important events in U.S. history, an event that it participated in so successfully. Instead, it will rest in safety in Boston, serving as host to a few insignificant 1812-related events that no one will notice or remember.
This was a golden opportunity for the Navy to shine. But like so many other decisions taken by our uniformed commanders and decision makers of late, the Navy showed itself to be risk-averse.
The writer is a retired captain in the U.S. Army.