Detroit native Andrea Wilson Becomes Newest US Navy Constitution Historian

Proud Black female sailor Andrea Wilson is one of the newest historians of the oldest warships still afloat

Detroit-native Seaman Andrea Wilson: one of the newest qualified historian of the oldest commissioned warships still afloat in the world, the USS Constitution. Photo courtesy of USS Constitution Public Affairs, Navy Office of Community Outreach.

Detroit-native and Seaman Andrea Wilson is one of the newest experts in the history of the oldest commissioned warship in the U.S. Navy: the USS Constitution. Wilson earned her basic interpretive historian qualification which meant studying, and learning by heart the ship’s historic battles, unique design, and lives of the sailors which ran the ship in the 19th century.

“I just want to continue to make my mom proud and all the woman before me,” Wilson said in a Navy press statement. A position at the USS Constitution’s crew is one of the Navy’s special programs. “All prospective crew members must meet a high standard of sustained excellence and interview to be selected for the assignment,” the Navy stated. Wilson now dons a command ball cap with “crew member” embroidered on the back instead of the standard eight-point hat worn by the Navy.

USS Constitution, nicknamed “Old Ironsides,” photographed on September 10, 2017. Photo courtesy of Sathiya Raj.

The USS Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned warship that is still afloat — undefeated in battle. It played a strategic role in the Barbary Wars of 1812 and has been in active in defending the seas from 1797 to 1855. In its entire history, the ship captured 33 opponents. According to oral history, it earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” after “British cannonballs were seen bouncing off the ship’s wooden hull” during the Barbary Wars. “The active-duty sailors stationed aboard USS Constitution provide free tours and offer public visitation to more than 600,000 people each year as they support the ship’s mission of promoting the Navy’s history, maritime heritage, and raising awareness of the importance of a sustained naval presence,” the Navy said.

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