Constellation (kŏnstĭlāˈshən) [key], U.S. frigate, launched in 1797. It was named by President Washington for the constellation of 15 stars in the U.S. flag of that time. The frigate was built to serve against the pirates of the Barbary States, but after the outbreak (1798) of hostilities between the United States and France, it was stationed in Caribbean waters. After the Constellation, commanded by Thomas Truxtun, encountered and captured (Feb., 1799) the vessel Insurgente, it won (Feb., 1800) a hard-fought victory over another French frigate, the Vengeance. The Constellation was blockaded at Norfolk, Va. during the War of 1812, but further victories followed in the Mediterranean in 1815. Rebuilt in 1853–55, the Constellation was used against Confederate commerce cruisers in the Civil War and later served (1873–93) as a training ship at Annapolis, Norfolk, and Philadelphia. It became the ship with the longest period of service in the navy when it saw duty as flagship of the U.S. Atlantic fleet during World War II. It is preserved at Baltimore.
See study by H. I. Chapelle and L. D. Polland (1970).
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