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Historic USS Constellation Ship Moves Out Of The Inner Harbor For Repairs

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—History picks up and moves out of the Inner Harbor—at least for the next few months. The USS Constellation needs some work below the waterline.

Alex DeMetrick reports it's starting with a very careful parking job.

It's rigging temporarily gone, the USS Constellation was eased toward the Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay.

Like every other job here, it will be brought up out of the water to do repairs. But unlike modern steel hulls, the Constellation is all wood, making this parking job unique.

"You have to do your due diligence. There's a lot of naval architecture that goes behind making sure this elevation that will happen here today is safe," said Captain George Lesher, Coast Guard Yard commander.

In a floating dry dock that's a Navy hand-me-down from World War II.

"That starboard wing wall on this side was hit by a Japanese Tojo airplane," Lesher said.

But age doesn't mean it still can't work. In fact, it looks very good to the director of Historic Ships of Baltimore.

In the past, the organization moved the Constellation to the Sparrows Point shipyard for repairs. That facility no longer exists.

If it weren't for the Coast Guard Yard: "that would be tough," said Chris Rowson, Historic Ships of Baltimore. "There really aren't a lot of facilities around here up at this end of the bay that can take a ship this big."

...Or old. At 160 years, there's little room for error. Because once the tugs pass it off, moving the ship into position in the floating dock takes rope and muscle work for a repair job that will replace 4,000 square feet of Constellation's wooden hull.

"We're anticipating this could be good for another 30 years," Rowson said.

The $2 million repair job should be complete by February when the Constellation will be returned to its dock at the Inner Harbor.

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