After a two-year restoration, the USS Constitution will return to the water on Sunday.
The USS Constitution museum will celebrate the undocking of Old Ironsides, as the ship is known, officials said at an event on Monday. The Constitution defended the seas from 1798 to 1855, and is now a featured destination of Boston’s Freedom Trail, hosting over 500,000 visitors a year.
The restoration, a $12 million undertaking, replaced 2,200 copper sheaths and 100 hull planks and gun carriers on the ship. The rigging on the ship was also refurbished and replaced.
Commander Robert Gerosa, the top officer of the Constitution, highlighted the significance of the frigate in the country’s naval history.
“I’m reminded of a quote, ‘the Navy has both a tradition and a future and we look with pride and confidence in both directions,’” Gerosa said. “This ship embodies the best of that quote. This ship is the cornerstone of the US Navy.”
On Sunday, the dry dock where the four-story-tall ship has been held for restoration will be flooded with 4.8 million gallons of water from the Boston Harbor, and the Constitution will be pulled out and moved to a nearby pier.
That date bears special significance — on that day 63 years ago, Congress passed a law decreeing that the Navy would maintain the ship and have it remain in Boston.
The ship needs to be dry docked and restored once every 20 years, according to Margherita Desy, the historian of Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston, the group in charge of the restoration. The Constitution was last restored in 1992.
The Constitution will remain docked in Pier One East at the Charlestown Navy Yard and will open to the public in mid-September.
“It’s been great getting to see her in the dry dock,” Gerosa said. “But I can’t wait to see her back in the water.”