The Pride of Baltimore II, a reproduction of a 19th century topsail schooner, docked at the Washington Navy Yard (WNY) Wednesday as part of ongoing commemorations of the War of 1812 bicentennial.
As part of the bicentennial events, the ship will be available for free tours through Aug. 25, and the National Museum of the U.S. Navy at WNY is also scheduled to host several other programs for the public, including a walking tour of WNY and “Defeat to Victory: 1814-1815,” a new exhibit opening at the museum in Building 76, Aug. 25.
Members of the public may access the Pride of Baltimore II via the riverwalk along the Anacostia River from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Aug. 21, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Aug. 22-25. For events within WNY, the public may use the 6th Street SE gate.
“These ships were the beginnings of our Navy,” said John Imparato, retired director of corporate information management for Naval District Washington (NDW), of the ships which inspired the modern replica. “After the revolution, many of the ships were just laid up. We didn’t have much of a Navy, and the Sailors were basically our merchantmen and fishermen.”
The Pride of Baltimore II is modeled after 1812-era Baltimore Clippers, small cargo vessels that delivered goods up and down the east coast of the fledgling United States, and later helped win the War of 1812.
They did fairly well against the British, who fortunately, were still fighting against the French so they weren’t able to put their entire naval might against a small country,” Imparato said, adding that the victories over the British helped convince Congress to keep a standing Navy after the war.
August and September 1814 marked key turning points in the history of the War of 1812. Following the Battle of Bladensburg, British forces marched into the Washington, D.C. and burned much of the city. Fleeing American forces put the Navy Yard to the torch to prevent capture of key resources by the invading British.
Just weeks later in September, the Americans won a decisive victory at the Battle of Baltimore against the siege of Fort McHenry by the British, prompting the writing of the “Star Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key after the battle.
Following the visit to WNY, the Pride of Baltimore II is scheduled to sail into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor as part of the “Star Spangled Spectacular” bicentennial anniversary of the battle. The weeklong event will feature historic and modern Navy ships, the Blue Angels, living history demonstrations, musical performances, and a fireworks display over Fort McHenry. Visitors may also tour the decks of the Pride of Baltimore II and buy tickets to actually set sail on the clipper.
The Pride of Baltimore II was commissioned in 1988 after the original Pride of Baltimore sank in a storm off Puerto Rico two years before. Since commissioning, Pride II has visited more than 40 ports with a stated mission of educating people on maritime history and representing the people of Maryland.
For more information about the Pride of Baltimore II or to buy tickets for upcoming events, visit www.pride2.org. To learn more about War of 1812 bicentennial events at WNY, visit www.history.navy.mil, or www.facebook.com/NavDistWash.