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Google Launches Virtual USS Constitution Tour Experience - USS Constitution fires her traditional 21-gun salute
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Victoria Kinney, USS Constitution Public Affairs

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (NNS) -- Google Maps published a complete 360-degree virtual experience of USS Constitution on Tuesday, Jan 20.

Using Street View technology, Google Maps photographed the ship in fall 2014 to create an online 360-degree virtual experience of touring Constitution in preparation for the ship's scheduled dry dock restoration period, which begins in March 2015.

"The timing was ideal," said Cmdr. Sean Kearns, Constitution's 73rd commanding officer. "It enabled Google to photograph the ship pierside in her normal fully-rigged configuration before we down-rig the ship and move her into dry dock for restoration work."

The 217-year-old warship is scheduled to undergo nearly three-years of restoration work during which time 'Old Ironsides' will have her copper siding replaced, along with major restorations to areas of the ship's hull, interior, and stern.

Constitution joins a growing list of historical landmarks that Google Maps has available for online tours. Already available online are the Taj Mahal, The Louvre Museum, underwater reefs and street level views from around the world.

To date, Google Maps has imagery available in more than 64 countries around the world.

"Adding interior imagery of the USS Constitution to Google Maps was the next step towards providing the most accurate, useful and comprehensive map of the world," said Deanna Yick, Google Maps Street View program manager. "We hope this encourages curious observers to visit this historic ship in person one day."

Google Maps' innovative technology offers a unique view of most decks and spaces in the warship, including some spaces typically closed off to visitors, and will allow full virtual access of the landmark during the restoration. The virtual tour allows the public to view and experience the ship as she traditionally looks, fully-rigged at her berth at pier 1 in Charlestown Navy Yard.

"This effort is particularly exciting because not only will it allow the public to go on a virtual tour to areas of the ship that will not be accessible while Old Ironsides is in dry dock, it will also bring this virtual tour experience to millions of people worldwide who might otherwise never get the chance to visit the ship in person," said Kearns.

USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat, actively defended sea lanes against global threats from 1797 to 1855. Now a featured destination on Boston's Freedom Trail, Constitution and her crew of U.S. Navy Sailors offer community outreach and education about the ship's history and the importance of naval seapower to more than 500,000 visitors each year.

To visit USS Constitution in Google Maps Street View, click "U.S. Highlights"

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Mui
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