USS Constitution May Stay Open
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BOSTON (AP) _ The USS Constitution will likely stay open to the public after the U.S. Navy and National Park Service worked Saturday to settle disagreements over security at the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat.
The ship’s commanding officer and park service managers plan to meet Sunday and resolve the issue for good, said Sean Hennessey, spokesman for the National Park Service.
The ship would then open as scheduled Monday, its 205th birthday.
On Friday, the Navy said a simmering dispute over funding for post-Sept. 11 security would close the ship indefinitely. But the weekend meetings apparently headed off that possibility.
``It appears the ship’s going to remain open and that park service security is going to remain as it is,″ Petty Officer Peter Robertson said Saturday.
The Navy pays the park service for security at the ship’s dock, historic Charlestown Naval Yard, a national park. The ship was closed after last year’s terror attacks and reopened with more security two months later.
Both sides say the dispute started with a park service employee’s offhand comment to a Navy officer about the heightened security, which Commanding Officer Randall A. Neal later understood as a plan to reduce security.
That prompted Neal to announce Friday that the ship would be closed, taking the park service by surprise. ``I think it was a miscommunication,″ Hennessey said.
The Constitution, commissioned in 1797, never lost a battle, from fighting pirates in the Caribbean to the British in the War of 1812. Active-duty sailors dressed in vintage 1812 uniforms lead free tours of the ship.
In 1997, it sailed under its own power for the first time in 116 years.