Respect Equality

First woman to command USS Constitution takes over this week

Story at a glance

  • Cmdr. Billie J. Farrell is set to become the first woman to command the USS Constitution on Friday.
  • The USS Constitution, also known as “Old Ironsides,” is a 224-year-old ship.
  • Farrell is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Arkansas who previously served as the executive officer of the USS Vicksburg, a guided missile cruiser.

Cmdr. Billie J. Farrell is set to become first woman to command the USS Constitution this week. 

Farrell will take over as commander of the 224-year-old ship, also known as “Old Ironsides,” after a change-of-command ceremony on Friday. Farrell will be replacing Cmdr. John Benda, who has been at the helm since February 2020. 

“I know the crew is in great hands with Commander Farrell,” Benda said in a press release. “This historic barrier is long overdue to be broken. I cannot think of a better candidate to serve as USS Constitution’s first female commanding officer.” 


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Farrell is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Arkansas who previously served as the executive officer of the USS Vicksburg, a guided missile cruiser. 

“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 USS Constitution’s first female commanding officer in her 224 years,” said Farrell.  

“I hope to strengthen the legacy of 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.” 


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