With the recent retirement of the guided missile frigate USS Simpson, there remains only one ship in the United States navy that has ever sunk an enemy vessel. That ship is the USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides.” And that only because of a technicality. The Constitution is a three-mast wooden frigate that was retired from active service in 1881 but has remained a part of the navy and was designated a “floating museum” in 1907. It fought in the First Barbary War in the early 1800’s, but is best known for destroying the HMS Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia shortly after the outbreak of the War of 1812.
In a sad ceremony mirroring the current path of the country it proudly served, the Simpson’s flag was lowered for the final time last week at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida. Ironically, the ship will eventually be towed to Philadelphia, birthplace of the Constitution and home to the Liberty Bell, and sold to a foreign military.