BOSTON (AP) – History is being written aboard the USS Constitution this week.
Cmdr. Billie J. Farrell is scheduled to be the first woman to lead the crew of the 224-year-old warship known as Old Ironsides during a change of command ceremony on Friday. She takes over after Cmdr. John Benda, who has led the ship’s crew since February 2020.
Farrell is based in Paducah, Kentucky, trained in 2004 from the US Naval Academy, and most recently served as the executive officer aboard the USS Vicksburg, a guided missile cruiser, according to her naval biography.
Constitution, based on Boston’s Charlestown Navy Yard, is the world’s oldest commissioned warship still floating. It played a crucial role in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812 and defended sea routes from 1797 to 1855. The ship was undefeated in battle and destroyed or conquered 33 opposing vessels.
It was nicknamed Old Ironsides during the war of 1812, when British cannonballs were seen jumping off the wooden hull.
It is occupied by active seafarers, about a third of whom are women.
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