Susan Constant

Jamestown Settlement’s Flagship Turns 30

The Susan Constant, largest of the three re-created ships at Jamestown Settlement, marks its 30th anniversary this year. The 120-ton vessel was constructed in 1990 at the museum along the shores of the James River, where a sprawling lumberyard dotted the landscape. Massive timbers of greenheart, mora purpleheart and courbaril, collected from around the world, were fashioned into a ship by a team of skilled carpenters and shipwrights.

Under the leadership of Eric Speth, Maritime Program Manager for the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Stanley Potter, a naval architect, and Allen Rawl, the master shipbuilder, a team of 70 craftsmen brought maritime historian Brian Lavery’s research to life over the course of a little more than a year. After a fanfare christening and launch on a chilly morning in December 1990, the Susan Constant underwent sea trials in February 1991 and was officially commissioned on April 25, 1991.

The Susan Constant — a “floating classroom” that has welcomed countless visitors aboard over the past three decades — is regularly seen moored at Jamestown Settlement alongside re-creations of the Godspeed and Discovery, designated “the official fleet of the Commonwealth” by the Virginia General Assembly.