FACT CHECK: Did The Crew Of The USS Constitution Consume More Than 100,000 Gallons Of Alcohol During A Voyage?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims the crew of the USS Constitution consumed more than 100,000 gallons of alcohol between July 1798 and February 1799.

Verdict: False

There is no evidence to support the post’s claims. The USS Constitution Museum debunked a version of the post in 2013.

Fact Check:

The USS Constitution, an American warship also known as “Old Ironsides,” was active between 1797 and 1855 and is the world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat, according to the Associated Press.

Recently, social media users have been sharing a story about the legendary ship and her crew’s supposed prodigious appetite for alcohol. The post alleges that during the vessel’s purported voyage from July 1798 to February 1799, the crew drank more than 100,000 gallons of alcohol, including rum, Portuguese wine and single malt Scotch.

This claim, however, is not accurate, according to the USS Constitution Museum. The museum debunked the claim in an article on its website in 2013, noting that such tremendous amounts of alcohol could not have been stored on the vessel. (RELATED: Does This Image Show A Pakistani Helicopter In Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley?)

“So far, the 48,000 gallons of water mentioned in the story is not far off the mark, but the 79,400 gallons of rum on board at sailing is some eight times more than the ship ever carried!” reads part of the post shared on the museum’s website. “Besides the extreme expense of so much rum, there was simply not room in the ship’s hold for the barrels, puncheons, hogsheads, and butts needed to contain it all.”

The museum’s article also notes that other aspects of the Facebook post’s claims are inaccurate. While the Facebook post claims the Constitution traveled to England in 1798, the Constitution museum notes the vessel was actually patrolling the East Coast of the U.S. and parts of the Caribbean at this time. The post’s claims that the Constitution defeated five British warships and captured 12 British merchant ships in that year are also counter to the ship’s official history. In reality, the Constitution only captured one vessel, the Niger, a British privateer, in 1798, according to the US Naval History and Heritage Command website.

While the Facebook post appears to exaggerate the famed ship’s exploits in its early years, the Constitution did capture or destroy fifteen British ships during the War of 1812, the US Naval History and Heritage Command website reported. The Constitution captured 33 ships total during the course of its distinguished career, according to the website.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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