The world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat first went to sea to defend the rights of American seamen and merchants. On Saturday and amid a global coronavirus pandemic, Old Ironsides will suspend normal operations to help protect its personnel and the Boston public.
The nearby USS Constitution Museum also will close its doors at least through March to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
“The safety of our guests and sailors is always our top priority,” said Cmdr. John Benda, USS Constitution’s commanding officer, in a prepared statement. “We will continue to stay in complete alignment with guidance from Navy leadership, diligently follow all precautions and preventive measures, and will actively communicate information as the situation develops.”
Officials say that no sailors on board the famous frigate have tested positive for COVID-19. The move to end public tours came after consulting guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A cornerstone of the Charlestown Navy Yard, the USS Constitution Museum at the end of the month will reassess its decision to close. The nonprofit institution annually hosts more than 300,000 visitors.
“The safety of our visitors and staff is our top priority, and we will continue to monitor new developments closely,” said Museum President & CEO Anne Grimes Rand in a prepared statement emailed to Navy Times.
The nonprofit museum will boost the content on its digital platforms for adults, children, educators and students, including more videos, images, blog posts and other materials, officials said.
Prine came to Navy Times after stints at the San Diego Union-Tribune and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors and the Combat Infantryman Badge.