In a chilly outdoor ceremony Friday, Commander Billie J. Farrell was officially named the 77th Commander of the storied warship USS Constitution, becoming the first woman at the ship’s helm in its 224-year history.
“I have been humbled by the outpouring support I have received as I embark on this amazing journey,” Farrell said in her remarks. “Thank you to the City of Boston for the warm welcome.”
Farrell relieved Commander John Benda, the ship’s 76th commanding officer, in the ceremony at Charlestown Navy Yard. Other attendees included Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.
During his remarks, Benda said the “ship is in great hands,” and that he’ll always be around to offer his support. He said the spirit “of the hundreds of men that passed” while onboard now lives on in Farrell.
“You are USS Constitution. Embrace it. Enjoy it,” Benda said. “They are looking down at us right now huzzahing because this ship lives to fight another day.”
Farrell, a Paducah, Ky. native, was commissioned from the United States Naval Academy in 2004 and awarded a Master of Science in operations management from the University of Arkansas in 2009. Most recently, she served as executive officer aboard the USS Vicksburg in Norfolk, Va.
“I feel honored to have been chosen as the first female [commanding officer] and blessed to be in this role,” she said in a previous interview with the Globe. “I just really want to show that if somebody wants to do something within the Navy or elsewhere that there [are] always opportunities, and you just have to find them and work hard and set your sights on something and continue to push forward.”
The warship, also known as “Old Ironsides,” dates back to 1797 and played a crucial role in the War of 1812 and Barbary Wars, according to a statement from the ship’s public affairs office.
Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.