The Denver Post - - NEWS - — The As­so­ci­ated Press

The USS Con­sti­tu­tion, the world’s old­est com­mis­sioned war­ship still afloat, has re­turned to Bos­ton’s wa­ters.

The un­dock­ing of “Old Iron­sides” on Sun­day marked the end of restora­tion work that started two years ago, of­fi­cials said. A cel­e­bra­tion was held at the USS Con­sti­tu­tion Mu­seum.

The wooden ship was launched in 1797 and earned its fa­mous nick­name notch­ing vic­to­ries in the War of 1812.

“The ship has been the cor­ner­stone of the Navy for a long time,” said Robert Gerosa, the Con­sti­tu­tion’s com­mand­ing of­fi­cer. “To be a part of the ship is truly an honor.”

The restora­tions ex­tend the life of the ves­sel with a hull of nearly 2 feet thick.

It’s the last re­main­ing sur­vivor of six ships cre­ated when Pres­i­dent George Washington signed the Naval Ar­ma­ment Act, said Margherita Desy, a his­to­rian at Naval His­tory & Her­itage Com­mand De­tach­ment Bos­ton.

A crowd of peo­ple gath­ered around the ship Sun­day night to watch as the ship was floated off its blocks and into the har­bor.

The ship en­ters dry dock about ev­ery 20 years for be­low-the-wa­ter­line re­pairs. The most re­cent work in­cluded re­plac­ing 100 hull planks and in­stalling 2,200 new cop­per sheets, 500 of which were signed by nearly 100,000 mu­seum vis­i­tors, ac­cord­ing to USS Con­sti­tu­tion Mu­seum Pres­i­dent Anne Grimes Rand, who called the ship “a won­der­ful sym­bol for our democ­racy.”

“It was meant to last for 10 or 20 years, and to have (the) ship here more than 200 years later, it needs con­stant care,” Rand said.

Steven Senne, AP

The USS Con­sti­tu­tion is back in the wa­ter Mon­day at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Bos­ton.

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