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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Old Ironsides plies harbor before dry dock

From Wire Reports

Boston – Old Ironsides took one last trip around Boston Harbor on Friday ahead of a major, multiyear restoration project, firing its cannons while the Dropkick Murphys punk band and a Boston Pops quintet entertained hundreds of special guests and dignitaries on board.

The USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat, was pushed along by a tugboat, its sails already taken down as it prepares to enter dry dock for the repairs, which the Navy says could take about three years.

The three-mast frigate, which earned its nickname after winning battles during the War of 1812 against Great Britain, gave a traditional 21-gun salute to Fort Independence on Castle Island, one of the oldest fortified sites in the country.

For the most part, the USS Constitution still will be open for public tours until it officially enters dry dock in March 2015.

The repair work is expected to involve re-coppering the ship’s hull, replacing worn riggings, changing out old planks on the gun and berth decks and making general repairs to the stern, bow and captain’s cabin.

Dave Werner, spokesman for the Naval History and Heritage Command, which is overseeing the project, said the ship repairs will cost about $12 million to $15 million and be paid for by the Navy.

Storm approaching Hawaii a hurricane

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii – The powerful Pacific storm churning toward Hawaii became a hurricane but remained far enough away from the islands to allow tourists to make the most of Friday’s remaining sunny weather.

The National Weather Service said Friday that Ana became a Category 1 hurricane about 230 miles south of Hilo with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour.

A tropical storm watch was in effect throughout the archipelago.

“Any of the islands could experience tropical storm impacts … so it’s important to still prepare and make plans,” said Chris Brenchley, a weather service meteorologist.

The hurricane was expected to gradually weaken to become a tropical storm again by early Sunday morning, Brenchley said.

Ana was expected to pass 115 miles southwest of the Big Island on Friday night, and to keep the same distance as it passes the rest of the Hawaiian Islands over the weekend, but that could change, he said.

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