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Cmdr. Billie J. Farrell to Become First Woman to Command Old Ironsides

Cmdr. Billie J. Farrell is all set to make history as she is scheduled to become the first woman to guide the crew of the 224-year-old warship known as Old Ironsides. The change-of-command ceremony is scheduled to take place on Friday, Jan 21, 2022. Cmdr. Billie will take the role from Cmdr. John Benda, who has commanded the ship’s crew since February 2020.

The Constitution is based at Boston’s Charlestown Navy Yard. It is the world’s oldest commissioned warship still floating. It was instrumental in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812 and protected sea lanes from 1797 until 1855. The ship was unbeaten in battle and demolished or seized 33 opposing vessels.

Due to its unbeaten journey, the ship has earned the nickname Old Ironsides during the war of 1812, when British cannonballs were seen bouncing off its wooden hull. It is manned by active-duty sailors. In its crews about one-third of whom are women.

Furthermore, Farrell earlier worked as the executive officer aboard the USS Vicksburg. She is a native of Kentucky. Farrell has earned her graduate degree from the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Arkansas. She has been deployed three times and completed various overseas assignments.

When Farrell joined the Naval Academy, she already has the passion to work on a ship. Farrell spent time on the family’s boat when he was a kid at the Matlock family’s lake house on Kentucky Lake. That time on the ocean piqued her interest in working on navy ships, which she had the opportunity to do during her summers as a Midshipman.

In addition, Cmdr. John Benda who is the current and 76th commanding officer of the Constitution said in a statement that he knows Commander Farrell will take good care of the crew. He went on to say that breaking this historic barrier has been probably inevitable. Cmdr. John also stated that he cannot think of a better person to be the first female commanding officer of the USS Constitution.

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