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Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro paid a visit to the USS Constitution in Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood on Wednesday morning, joining officers in festivities to honor the US Navy’s 246th birthday.

The ceremony included a 21-gun salute and the performance of honorary 19th century military drills, according to Officer Elliott Fabrizio, who serves aboard the USS Constitution.

“We were honored to have [the secretary] aboard. He kicked off the day firing one of our cannons at morning colors,” he said, referring to the daily flag-raising ceremony.

“There isn’t a better way to say happy birthday to the Navy than by doing it aboard the oldest ship in the nation,” said Fabrizio.

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On the Constitution, he added, this practice also includes an honorary cannon firing.

Secretary of the navy, Carlos Del Toro (left), listened to sailors and others yell  "HUZZAH "  (three cheers) for the Navy aboard the USS Constitution.
Secretary of the navy, Carlos Del Toro (left), listened to sailors and others yell "HUZZAH " (three cheers) for the Navy aboard the USS Constitution.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

After the ceremony, Del Toro ate lunch with the ship’s roughly 80 active-duty crew members and spoke about the day-to-day challenges currently facing the Navy.

“The Navy is as important today as it was in the days of the Constitution ... protecting the data that flows underneath the seas, fiber optic cables, [and] protecting our trade so that nations can freely trade amongst each other in a safe way that enhances our economies worldwide,” Del Toro said in an interview with “Good Morning America.’'

And for many of the young sailors, a meeting with the secretary marked a day they’re unlikely to forget.

“Many of them were surprised that someone as senior as the secretary of the Navy was going to sit down to lunch with them in their galley, but he was right at home with the crew on hamburger-and-hotdog day,” said Fabrizio. “Although the USS Constitution is a very cherished and special part of the Navy, it’s rarely on the secretary’s radar, so the opportunity to show off what we do was the real treat for us.”

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Ivy Scott can be reached at ivy.scott@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @itsivyscott.