was a 38-gun frigate and the first ship to be commissioned in
the United States Navy. She was distinguished as the first U.S.
Navy vessel to put to sea and the first U.S. Navy vessel to
engage, defeat, and capture an enemy vessel. Constellation was
one of the six original frigates authorized for construction by
the Naval Act of 1794.
The original USS Constellation was constructed in 1797 by Joshua
Humphreys and broken up for scrap in 1853 in Gosport Navy Yard
in Norfolk, Virginia at the same time as the keel was laid for
what would later be known as the second USS Constellation. In
the later half of the 20th Century, the 1854 version was thought
to be the 1797 version as the city of Baltimore promoted the
ship as the original and some naval historians believed the
Baltimore ship to be the rebuilt original. The paper "Fouled
Anchors: The Constellation Question Answered", by Dana M.
Wegner, et al., published by the Navy's David Taylor Research
Center in 1991, concludes that they are different ships. The
conclusive proof came during the renovation of the ship in
Baltimore concluding in 1999 in which all evidence pointed to
the construction of an entirely new sloop-of-war from the 1850s
era and not the 1797 ship.