USS Constitution To Welcome It's First Female Commanding Officer

76th Commanding Officer CDR John A. Benda (left) and the incoming 77th Commanding Officer CDR Billie Jean Farrell (right). Photo: Courtesy of U.S. Navy

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) – The USS Constitution will soon celebrate a historic milestone.

The USS Constitution Museum will hold a free virtual event, called "Captains of USS Constitution: Hail & Farewell," on Wednesday, January 19. The ceremony will celebrate outgoing USS Constitution Commanding Officer (CO) CDR John A. Benda and the incoming CO, CDR Billie June (BJ) Farrell. Farrell will be the first woman to take command of Old Ironsides in the ship’s 224-year history.

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“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,” Farrell said. “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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Farrell is a native of Paducah, Kentucky and graduated from the United States Naval Academy as well as the University of Arkansas. Throughout her naval career, Farrell has served as Deputy Director for Professional Development at the Naval Academy and, most recently, as Executive Officer onboard USS Vicksburg.

The event will serve as the public's first opportunity to meet both COs together before Farrell assumes command of USS Constitution on January 21. Anyone interested in watching the event can register for tickets for the webinar prior to the event. Registration to watch is required.

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