BOSTON – A 1995 Calvert High School graduate and St. Leonard, Maryland, native will celebrate America’s 242nd year of independence as part of a hand-picked Navy crew serving on the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, the USS Constitution.
Cmdr. Nathaniel Shick serves as the commanding officer of the 220-year-old Boston-based ship named by President George Washington to honor the Constitution of the United States of America. Famously known as “Old Ironsides,” the Constitution is a wooden-hulled three-masted heavy frigate that originally launched in 1797.
“Joining the Navy was a family tradition,” said Shick. “My grandfather was a sailor in World War II and my father also served in the Navy.”
A family tradition of military service, coupled with an ocean heritage living along the coast, helped Shick throughout his Navy career.
“I learned a passion for history and a love for the water growing up in Maryland,” said Shick. “The War of 1812 is never far from the minds of families in southern Maryland, so it’s interesting serving aboard USS Constitution knowing that other, similar ships were used to help defend the coast during that war.”
Shick is honored to have been selected to serve as the commanding officer of the ship that is rich in history and successfully held off the British Navy in the War of 1812.
“Serving aboard the USS Constitution gives me the opportunity to scratch the history itch I have,” said Shick.”It also gives me the opportunity to conduct community outreach. Our sailors are actively involved in community relations including support to Navy Weeks and Fleet Weeks. It’s a very special opportunity, and you can see the pleasure our sailors get from that experience.”
A key element of the Navy’s mission is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, according to Navy officials, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea. Just as U.S. Navy ships and submarines do today, Constitution actively defended sea lanes against global threats from 1797 to 1855. Constitution’s victories at sea during the War of 1812 inspired a nation and helped mark the emergence of the United States as a world-class maritime power.
Now a featured destination on Boston’s Freedom Trail, Constitution and crew offer community outreach and education about the ship’s history and the importance of maintaining a strong Navy to hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Seventy-seven sailors make up the crew aboard Constitution. These sailors routinely interact with the public talking about their jobs, their previous duty stations, Navy rules and regulations and life aboard a Navy vessel.
“I’m extremely proud of my sailors stationed onboard USS Constitution,” said Shick, the 75th Commanding Officer of USS Constitution. “We have the opportunity to engage with over half a million people each year here at the Charlestown Navy Yard. Each sailor is hand selected for this command, undergoing a rigorous college level curriculum studying American Naval History in the Age of Sail and building confidence through daily public communication. I could never praise these men and women enough for volunteering their services and pledging their support to our nation.”
USS Constitution, America’s Ship of State, actively defended sea lanes against global threats from 1797-1855. The World’s Oldest Commissioned Warship Afloat, Constitution embodies 220 years of maritime heritage and unwavering service to her country. Now a featured destination on Boston’s Freedom Trail, Constitution and her crew of active duty U.S. Navy sailors offer community outreach and education about the ship’s history and the importance of naval sea power to more than 500,000 visitors each year.
“My motivating drive to joining the Navy was my love for history and the water,” said Shick. “I learned that the best teachers were ones who could bring real-world experience to their teaching, so being in the Navy meant I could gain the experience of being on the water while teaching others.”
By Alvin Plexico, Navy Office of Community Outreach
Photo By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jackson Brown