USS Constitution to return to water after latest restoration

A maintenance facility worker restores wood for the USS Constitution, Wednesday, April 5, 2017, at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. The world's oldest commissioned warship afloat is scheduled to return to the waters in late July. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Restoration work continues on the USS Constitution in dry dock, Wednesday, April 5, 2017, at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. The ship enters dry dock for below-the-waterline repairs every 20 years. The world's oldest commissioned warship afloat is scheduled to return to the waters in late July. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Public Affairs Officer Josh Hammond ducks down in the crew sleeping quarters below deck on the USS Constitution, Wednesday, April 5, 2017, at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. The ship enters dry dock for below-the-waterline repairs every 20 years. The world's oldest commissioned warship afloat is scheduled to return to the waters in late July. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Restoration work continues on the USS Constitution in dry dock, Wednesday, April 5, 2017, at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. The ship enters dry dock for below-the-waterline repairs every 20 years. The world's oldest commissioned warship afloat is scheduled to return to the waters in late July. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

BOSTON — "Old Ironsides" is headed back to Boston's waters after being dry docked for repairs for the last two years, Navy officials said Wednesday.

Restoration work on the USS Constitution is nearly complete, and the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat is expected to return to the waters at the historic Charlestown Navy Yard on July 23, officials said.

The ship enters dry dock about every 20 years for below-the-waterline repairs.

Nearly 100 white oak hull planks were replaced during the latest round. The lower hull also was re-caulked and covered with thousands of fresh copper sheets, some of which have been signed by visitors during the past two years.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tim Anderson, the ship's executive officer, said wood rot fortunately was not as bad as it could have been.

The ship's museum has chronicled the roughly $12 million to $15 million process online .

The USS Constitution has largely remained open to visitors since entering dry dock in May 2015. Access to the ship's decks will be limited from July to September while workers restore the masts and rigging.

The 220-year-old ship, which was launched in 1797, earned its famous nickname notching victories in the War of 1812.

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