USS Constitution is a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy, named by President George Washington after the Constitution of the United States of America.She is the world's oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat.She put to sea on the evening of 22 July 1798 with orders to patrol the Eastern seaboard between New Hampshire and New York.

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He placed a prize crew aboard Niger and brought her into Norfolk, Virginia.

Constitution sailed south again a week later to escort a merchant convoy, but her bowsprit was severely damaged in a gale and she returned to Boston for repairs.

Constitutions stated mission today is to promote understanding of the Navy's role in war and peace through educational outreach, historical demonstration, and active participation in public events as part of the Naval History & Heritage Command. In 1793 alone, eleven American ships were captured and their crews and stores held for ransom.

To combat this problem, proposals were made for warships to protect American shipping, resulting in the Naval Act of 1794.

She continued to serve as flagship in the Mediterranean and African squadrons, and she circled the world in the 1840s.

During the American Civil War, she served as a training ship for the United States Naval Academy.

Constitution was launched in 1797, one of six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794 and the third constructed.

Joshua Humphreys designed the frigates to be the young Navy's capital ships, and so Constitution and her sisters were larger and more heavily armed and built than standard frigates of the period. Navy were to provide protection for American merchant shipping during the Quasi-War with France and to defeat the Barbary pirates in the First Barbary War.

They intercepted Niger off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina on 8 September, a 24-gun ship sailing with a French crew en route from Jamaica to Philadelphia, claiming to have been under the orders of Great Britain.

Nicholson had the crewmen imprisoned, perhaps not understanding his orders correctly.

An attempt two days later resulted in only an additional 31 feet (9.4 m) of travel before the ship again stopped.