Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Reenlistment Rate: 92%
One of the most notable naval stories in world history is the lore surrounding the legendary warship, USS Constitution (nicknamed "Old Ironsides").
This battlewagon is today docked in Boston Harbor, and is the world's oldest commissioned naval vessel.
Construction began on Constitution in 1794 in Boston. Approximately 2,000 trees were used to build it. It was christened in 1797 and launched in 1798. In the war of 1812 it defeated five different British warships.
There are many, many tales surrounding the exploits of this ship and her crews, but my favorite is as follows, taken from the ship's log:
On 23 August, 1799, USS Constitution set sail from Boston, loaded with 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of water, 74,000 cannon shot, 11,500 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum.
Her mission: To destroy and harass British shipping.
On 6 October she made Jamaica, where she took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. Three weeks later, Constitution reached the Azores, where she provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 2,300 gallons of Portugese wine.
On 18 November she set sail for England, where her crew captured and scuttled 12 British merchant vessels and took their rum aboard. By this time, Constitution had run out of shot. Nevertheless, she made her way unarmed up the Firth of Clyde on a night raid there. Here, her landing party captured a whisky distillery and transferred 13,000 gallons to her stores. She then headed for home port.
On 20 February Constitution arrived in Boston with no cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum and no whisky. She did, however, still have her full crew of 475 officers and men and 18,600 gallons of rancid water.
The math is quite enlightening:
---Length of cruise: 181 days
---Booze consumption: 1.26 gallons per man per day (not including the unknown quantity of rum captured from the 12 British merchant vessels in November)
---Reenlistment rate: 92%