Female 18-year Navy veteran takes over as commanding officer of the USS Constitution – known as Old Ironsides – for the first time in the warship’s 224-year history

Commander Billie J. Farrell is scheduled to assume the role at an on-board ceremony in the ship, also known as Old Ironsides, on January 21

A woman commander will take the helm of the USS Constitution for the first time in the 224-year history of the warship known as Old Ironsides, the Navy announced Tuesday.

Commander Billie J. Farrell is scheduled to assume the role at an on-board ceremony on January 21.

‘I am honored to have the privilege to soon command this iconic warship that dates back to the roots of both our nation and our Navy and to have been afforded the amazing opportunity to serve as U.S.S. Constitution’s first female commanding officer in her 224 years,’ Farrell said in a statement.

The Constitution, which sailed into fame and earned the nickname Old Ironsides during the the War of 1812, is the world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat.

News that Farrell achieved the milestone came on the heels of another important Navy announcement as helicopter Captain Amy Bauernschmidt was named the first woman to command a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier on deployment.

Farrell, a mother-of-two and native of Paducah, Kentucky, relieve Commander John Benda, who has led the ship’s crew since February 2020.

The 2004 graduate of the Naval Academy most recently served as the executive officer aboard the USS Vicksburg, a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, according to her Navy biography.

‘I hope to strengthen the legacy of the USS Constitution through preservation, promotion, and protection by telling her story and connecting it to the rich heritage of the United States Navy and the warships serving in the fleet today,’ she said.

The Constitution, based at Boston’s Charlestown Navy Yard, played a crucial role in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812, and defended sea lanes from 1797 until 1855.

Nowadays, the ship functions as a museum where generations learn about the Navy’s role in war.

Ceremonies are often hosted and historical demonstrations, free tours and educational programs are available for visitors year round.

Crew are all active-duty Navy personnel on special duty.

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SOURCE: AP / Daily Mail