Baltimore Inner Harbor Historic Ships: Faithful Servants in War and Peace

Many thousands of tourists head to the Baltimore Inner Harbor each year, to explore the fascinating museum attractions moored there. These classic showpieces span 200 years of American naval history, providing a historic glimpse into the naval world of yesteryear. What follows is a brief glimpse of the highly varied and exciting careers of just two of them.

USS Constellation
The skyline of the Inner Harbor is graced by the magnificently rigged tall masts of the 1854 Sloop-of-War, USS Constellation, the last purely-sail fighting ship commissioned by the United States navy.

A Multi-Talented Ship
For several years, after entering service, this graceful ship plied the oceans, performing a variety of diplomatic roles as part of the U.S. Mediterranean fleet.

Hunting the Slave Traders and Pirates
From 1859 until 1861 it served as the flagship of the U.S. African Squadron in which role it participated in the patrol operations aimed at curbing the slave trade that wrought havoc among the African tribal populations. Thousands of souls were being snatched away from their homelands by unscrupulous pirates, intent on selling them on foreign shores. USS Constellation was successful in intercepting several such vessels and freeing their wretched captives, releasing them back onto their native lands where they were reunited with their families.

Civil War Role
After the Civil War broke out, Constellation was put into military duty, blockading and deterring Confederate vessels and commercial raiders sailing the far-off Mediterranean waters, firing on them with its powerful armaments, and hastening the end of the naval war. Finally, with the surrender of the Confederate raider ship CSS Shenandoah on November 6, 1865, the naval war came to an end.

Post Civil War Tasks
The ship now turned to civil roles, ferrying exhibits across the Atlantic to the International Expo in Paris, and then, in 1879, in a humanitarian role, it carried much needed supplies to famine ravaged Ireland.

Preparing for World War l
Towards the end of the 19th Century, it became a floating Naval barracks, serving the military in yet another much needed role, teaching midshipmen the skills they would need in their Naval service. As a training vessel, it prepared some sixty thousand naval recruits for impending World War l duties.

Decommissioning and Honorable Retirement
Constellation was retired from active service in 1933, and then in 1940, the ship was declared a national symbol by President Roosevelt. Finally, in 1955 it was sailed to its current berth in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, where it has pride of place.

Yet Another Voyage
Amazingly, her sailing days were not yet finalized, and in 2004 the ship made a triumphant 6-day voyage to Annapolis and back, marking its first visit there for 111 years.

Taney, a U.S. Coast Guard High Endurance Cutter, was moored in Honolulu Harbor on that fateful December day in 1941, when, without warning, the Japanese air force attacked nearby Pearl Harbor. Firing repeatedly at Japanese aircraft flying overhead, Taney managed to sail to Peal Harbor, where it continued with anti-submarine patrols, remaining the last fighting ship afloat after the attack.

Varied World War ll Roles
Taney served her country throughout World War ll as a combat vessel. Until mid 1943 Taney fought in the Pacific theater on anti-submarine patrols, and as an anti-aircraft escort and other specially assigned roles. After a major refit of her guns later in 1943, the ship was transferred to the Atlantic theater in a new role as a command vessel for troop convoys and supply ships sailing between the U.S. and North Africa.

In 1945 Taney resumed duties in the Pacific playing an important role at the battle of Okinawa, serving as the flagship for Rear Admiral Cobb. Taney fought over 100 engagements with the enemy in the Pacific lasting until the end of the war, destroying and neutralizing many enemy aircraft. When hostilities ceased Taney sailed into Japanese ports, helping to evacuate Allied prisoners of war.

Peacetime Duties
With the advent of peace, Taney was refitted and carried out numerous varied coast guard duties from a west coast base, and in addition did service in both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

Ocean Weather Stations
In 1973, Taney moved to an east coast role primarily as an ocean going weather station ship, but with the advent of increasingly sophisticated satellite weather systems, these roles became unnecessary, and the ocean weather stations were finally closed down in 1977. Taney had the distinction of being the last Coast Guard Cutter in the U.S. to serve as an ocean weather station.

The Final Ocean Going Role

Until 1986, Taney continued active service, conducting search and rescue missions, fisheries patrols and highly successful anti-drug smuggling duties in the Caribbean. In 1985, Taney scored the biggest Marijuana bust in United States history when a vessel carrying a haul of over 150 tons of the weed was seized.

Honorable Retirement
She was finally and officially retired at the end of 1986, and presented to the City of Baltimore as a highly valued addition to the Marine Museum of Naval Vessels in the Inner Harbor.

Within comfortable walking distance of this magnificent Marine Museum, lie new developments such as the 1201 S.Charles Apartments, where residents have a wealth of entertaining and exciting city attractions close at hand.

History and modern city living with all its benefits, are now truly available to all.

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