Behind the Scenes Tour of Ships Out of Water

This winter, the USS Constellation and USS Submarine Torsk were towed from the Inner Harbor and put in dry dock at the Sparrows Point Shipyard for much-needed repairs. The historic vessels are scheduled to return to the water in a few weeks, but before they do we have a chance to visit them and learn about the boats and how historic ships are repaired. Please join us and our tour guide, Mr. Christopher Rowsom, executive director of Historic Ships of Baltimore (which owns these and other historic vessels), on a tour to see the Constellation and Torsk in a way that not many do: from the underside up!

Sparrow’s Point Shipyard, 600 Shipyard Road, Edgemere, MD 21219

Saturday, March 5, 2011 | 9:30 to 11:00 AM
$10 for members; $20 for non-members
Register online today!

The tour is at the shipyard in Edgemere, about ½ hour from downtown. The Sparrows Point Shipyard is not open to the public and we will have to be escorted in through the main gate promptly at 9:30 AM.

With a displacement of 1265 tons and a length of 164 feet, the Constellation is not an easy boat to get out of the water. At 1800 tons and over 300 feet, the Torsk is even more of a challenge. This winter, the Sparrows Point Shipyard did just that, and hauled the two historic ships out of water for vital repairs. Rot and water damage had inflicted the Constellation, which was commissioned in 1855. This ship is actually the second to be called the Constellation, the first lasting from 1798 to 1853 before being dismantled in Virginia. During its 156 year history, this Constellation captured one of the first Confederate vessels in the Civil War, transported exhibits to France for the 1878 Paris Exposition, shipped relief supplies to Ireland in the 1880s, participated in the National Star Spangled Banner Centennial in 1914, and served as the relief flagship for the Atlantic Fleet in World War II. The enormously celebrated ship came to Baltimore in 1955, and after a decade of repairs, opened to the public in the revitalizing Inner Harbor in 1968.

The USS Submarine Torsk, while not as old, also has a storied history. It was commissioned in 1944 for World War II just as the Constellation was ending its active career. The Torsk operated out of the U.S. base at Pearl Harbor as an airplane guard vessel for U.S. bombing operations in Japan. In 1945, the Torsk sank two Japanese vessels in one day, the last enemy warships torpedoed in all of the war. The boat also operated as a training vessel out of the Navy Submarine School in New London Connecticut and then participated in the U.S. blockade of Cuba in 1962. It arrived in Baltimore in 1972 to serve as a museum and a memorial in the Inner Harbor. Both vessels are now part of Historic Ships of Baltimore, a non-profit organization that oversees several historic ships at the Inner Harbor.

Our tour guide, Mr. Christopher Rowsom, is the group’s executive director and is overseeing the current restoration work. Please join us and Mr. Rowsom as we explore the Constellation and Torsk and the craft of repairing extremely large historic vessels. (Historic Ships of Baltimore has pictures and information about the ongoing repairs on their Facebook Page to see more).

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Deb Felmey says:

    This was an awesome tour. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to learn so much about the rich history of both ships. Mr. Rowsom was entertaining, patient and a wonderful guide. Excellent experience (even if the directions were a little suspect!)

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