Many people will look at the USS Constitution and the USS Olympia and see nothing to compare or connect the two ships together. Both ships indeed bookmark the 19th Century for the United States Navy. Each ship also fulfilled similar roles in the Navy’s national mission
The USS Constitution was launched in October 1797 while the USS Olympia was commissioned for the first time in Feb 1895, almost a century apart. Both ships would see battle soon after joining the fleet. The USS Constitution would participate in the Quasi War and the First Barbary War, while the USS Olympia would lead the American Asiatic Squadron into the Battle of Manila Bay in the Spanish American War.
Marines from the Constitution captured the French privateer Sandwich in 1800, and the Constitution would help blockade the Barbary Coast ports in 1802 and 1803. All of this was to defend American merchant ships against attacks.
The Olympia would take over as flagship of the Asiatic Squadron in 1896. This was a mission of showing the flag and patrolling the West Pacific sea lanes to protect American national interest. The Olympia would secure Manila Bay for the United States from Spain, and even a threatened seizure by the German Imperial fleet. In the years after, she would head up the Caribbean Squadron and take part in an intervention into Honduras.
Both ships would go on to serve in various roles for decades more. The Constitution would see extensive action in the War of 1812, while the Olympia would serve in several vital roles during World War One.
In the 18th Century the frigate was the ship class to patrol sea lanes, show the flag, and disrupt enemy mercantile shipping. By the late 19th Century the cruiser became the class to fulfill the same role. The role also had work with the fleet to act as a scout for the fleet and harassers for any retreating units.