A change of command as Old Ironsides sets sail again

A long time ago in an ocean not so far away, the USS Constitution blasted the British vessel HMS Guerriere into submission in a fierce firefight. For more than two centuries, the oldest commissioned warship in the world has stood as a symbol of patriotism for the American public, and particularly for those who have served aboard her.

That makes any change of command aboard Old Ironsides, an occasion to remember and reflect.

The ship set sail again yesterday morning from Constitution Wharf in the Charlestown Navy Yard for still another solemn ceremony at sea. Commander Thomas C. Graves, 41, relieved Commander Lewin C. Wright, 43, as the ship's commanding officer, becoming the 69th man to command the 207-year-old warship.

Wright, who is being transferred to the Navy staff in Washington, served as the Constitution's commanding officer for two years. Vice Admiral Albert T. Church III, who officiated at the ceremony, said Wright oversaw about 500 special events during his tenure and welcomed aboard more than 2 million people from around the world.


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