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The following story appears Winter 2009 issue:


While attending the funeral of his friend and the ship's commander, Joseph Brown, in July of 1987 Dave was informed that he was being considered for the post. On August 1, 1987, David Cashman became the 62nd commander of the USS CONSTITUTION, and his first thought was, "We should sail this ship."


CONSTITUTION had not been overhauled in over 15 years when Dave assumed command, and she was hogging badly. Her center was a full 11 inches higher than her ends. She had not been fully rigged in years, and a sailing ship’s rigging helps keep her true. Believing that use is the best form of boat maintenance, Dave thought, "I gotta get her to sail to fix her up." However, CONSTITUTION had not sailed since 1881 -- over 100 years -- and she was not in sailing shape. Dave knew they needed a goal. He called his superior, Admiral Joe Metcalf, to present an idea to address the ship's maintenance and restoration plan -- and his burning desire.

"Let's put a carrot out there of sailing her," Dave said to Admiral Metcalf. "The line went dead," Dave told me. Silence.

"Oh my God, he's gonna fire me," Dave thought. Then the admiral's thoughtful pause ended, and the line jumped back to life.

"Dave, what an idea! Let's do it!" Admiral Metcalf boomed, brimming with enthusiasm.



The following story appears Winter 2009 issue:


Commander Cashman's dream was realized in 1997. Escorted by USS HALYBURTON and USS RAMAGE, CONSTITUTION arrived in Marblehead on July 20th to commemorate the bicentennial of her launching by bringing her back to the harbor and fort that offered her refuge from HMS JUNON and HMS TENEDOS. It was the culmination of a ten-year effort that included a massive drydock restoration from 1992 to 1996. Much of the live oak required had come from trees knocked down by Hurricane Hugo that barreled into the Carolina coast in 1989. As CONSTITUTION rounded the end of Marblehead Neck and came into view, the masses of spectators assembled spontaneously erupted into a chorus of "God Bless America" -- as moving an experience as I have ever witnessed. The following day, July 21st, CONSTITUTION departed Marblehead, sailing independently for the first time in 116 years. With only six of her sails raised, she reportedly made 6 knots on her trip back to her berth in Boston Harbor. Dave Cashman, no longer her commander, was along for that historic ride.   

"I was fortunate," Dave told me in. "I had her for four years." The typical posting is just two. During his tenure, the World Ship Trust bestowed its International Maritime Heritage Award to CONSTITUTION in recognition of "nationally significant achievement in the cause of historic ship preservation." The award was presented by President Ronald Reagan to the ship's commanding officer, Commander David M. Cashman, in the Oval Office. Dave stepped out of the car under the White House portico that day wearing his full War of 1812 uniform: "The Marine on duty didn't know whether to salute me or shoot me!" Dave and his wife were married on CONSTITUTION, the first of her captains to be wed aboard. Dave retired from the US Navy in 1991. Never one to let an historical moment slip by, he descended to CONSTITUTION's lowermost decks and signed his retirement papers on an exposed section of CONSTITUTION's keel.

If CDR David M. Cashman, USN, Ret. and others get their wish, we will see the USS CONSTITUTION set sail again and the commemoration of yet another historical event -- CONSTITUTION's return to Marblehead in 2014 to celebrate the bicentennial of her dash to safety in 1814. He humbly describes her 1997 sail as being made possible "all through the efforts of many, many wonderful patriotic folks!" In thinking of the future, he concludes, "And yes!, I do think we -- America -- should do it again!"   

(1) Raymond H. Bates Jr. is the author of Shipwrecks North of Boston: Salem Bay, published by Commonwealth Editions, and the chart titled Shipwrecks of Boston’s North Shore.   

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      Bone Yard Boats     ***     P.O. Box 1432     ***     Marblehead, MA  01945 42° 30.20'N   70° 50.20'W  
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