The USS Constellation naval warship was commissioned by the U.S. Navy in 1855, decommissioned 100 years later in 1955, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963, and is now permanently docked in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The ship is the last remaining intact naval vessel from the Civil War era and is the last sail-only warship built by the Navy. While in dry dock for repairs in 2011 and 2015, Direct Dimensions Inc. (DDI) used Reality Computing to digitally document and preserve this historic landmark.
DDI specializes in the on-site application of digitizers, laser scanners, and the conversion of 3D data into computer models. Based in the suburbs of Baltimore, DDI heard about the repairs on the local news and offered its Reality Computing assistance to Historic Ships in Baltimore, the maritime museum that houses the USS Constellation as well as a collection of other military vessels and artifacts.
During its 2011 and 2015 reality capture efforts, DDI performed over 225 scans inside and outside the ship. The team used software to register and combine the scans, and Autodesk ReCap to view and share the merged point cloud with the restoration team and naval architects.
This reality capture data can be used to obtain precise 3D measurements for future maintenance or research. And as DDI points out in a project sheet on its website, the point cloud data could also be used for 3D walkthroughs of the ship for educational purposes, an online museum display featuring the 3D digital replica of the ship, or scaled versions of the ship that could be downloaded and 3D printed as a souvenir. But as DDI points out: “Even if there is no immediate end use in mind for the data, it is important to create a digital historic record for the potential needs of future generations. We can because we should. Not to mention, how amazingly interesting it was for us to see these ships in dry dock!”
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