Meet The First Woman To Command The Legendary USS Constitution

January 31, 2022Coffee or Die
First Woman Command Constitution

Cmdr. Billie J. Farrell salutes as the new commanding officer of the USS Constitution at the ship’s change of command ceremony. (Navy Photo by Specialist 2nd Class Skyler Okerman)

This article was originally published Jan. 25, 2022, on Sandboxx News. Follow Sandboxx News on Instagram

Last Friday, US Navy Cmdr. Billie J. Farrell made history as the first woman to take command of the Navy’s oldest commissioned ship, the legendary USS Constitution.

Farrell, 39, is the 77th commanding officer of the wooden-hulled heavy frigate, which first launched in October of 1797. The vessel would go on to earn fame, as well as its nickname, in the Battle of 1812. The USS Constitution was credited with defeating as many as five British warships during the conflict, one of which was the frigate HMS Guerriere. When Guerriere opened fire on the American ship, cannonballs were seen bouncing off its hull, earning it the longstanding nickname of “Old Ironsides.” The ship would go on to earn an incredible 33-0 engagement record, having never lost a fight.

“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 in a Navy release.

“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.”

First Woman Command Constitution
USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere. Painting, oil on canvas; by Orlando S. Lagman after Michel Felice Corne; 1966 (U.S. Navy)

The ship has remained in service, though sometimes in dry dock for repairs or maintenance, for 225 years, but until this past week, only men have served as the ship’s commander. In December of 2020, Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt was selected as the US Navy’s first-ever commander of a nuclear aircraft carrier, marking another in a series of historic firsts for female leaders across the force. With women leading the way aboard some of America’s most advanced and powerful vessels, it seems only fitting that a woman should take command of the force’s most storied and legendary of ships.

“I feel honored to have been chosen as the first female [commanding officer] and blessed to be in this role,” she said in an 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.”

CBS News correspondent Nancy Chen asked Farrell what she would tell her younger self about being given command of the Constitution.

“Even if I told her that one day she would be commanding the ship, she wouldn’t believe me,” Farrell said. “I think I would just tell my younger self to keep doing your best, and you’ll find yourself in some unusual places.”

First Female Commander Constitution
Portrait photo of Commander Billie J. Farrell. (Navy Photo)

Farrell, a graduate of both the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Arkansas, previously served as the executive officer aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69). Her career spans a number of cruisers before that, from her first tour as an electrical officer aboard the Ticonderoga-class USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) to serving as both a Weapons Officer and Combat Systems Officer aboard the USS San Jacinto (CG 56). She holds a master’s degree in Operations Management and her previous awards include two Meritorious Service Medals, four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and three Meritorious Unit Commendation Medals. First Woman Command Constitution

“The USS Constitution Museum is honored to welcome Commander Billie J. Farrell, 77th Commanding Officer of USS Constitution,” USS Constitution Museum President and CEO Anne Grimes Rand said.

“This is an exciting time in Boston with a female mayor and a female captain for Old Ironsides. Women have been represented in Constitution’s crew since I joined the museum staff in 1986, and the first female officer came aboard in 1996.”

While Farrell is the ship’s first female commander, she’s not the first woman to lead Sailors on its deck. In 1997, the USS Constitution was brought out of dry dock to sail under her own power for the first time in 116 years. That historic voyage was overseen in part by the ship’s first commissioned female officer, Lt. Cmdr. Claire V. Bloom, who served as the vessel’s executive officer. First Woman Command Constitution

Read Next: Fort Bragg MP Charged With Dealing Drugs on Duty

Coffee or Die
Coffee or Die

Coffee or Die is Black Rifle Coffee Company’s online lifestyle magazine. Launched in June 2018, the magazine covers a variety of topics that generally focus on the people, places, or things that are interesting, entertaining, or informative to America’s coffee drinkers — often going to dangerous or austere locations to report those stories.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
Coffee Or Die Photo
From the Team Room to Team Room Design: An Operator’s Creative Journey

BRCC partners with Team Room Design for an exclusive T-shirt release!

Coffee Or Die Photo
Get Your Viking On: The Exclusive 30 Sec Out BRCC Shirt Club Design

Thirty Seconds Out has partnered with BRCC for an exclusive shirt design invoking the God of Winter.

Grizzly Forge BRCC shirt
Limited Edition: Grizzly Forge Blades on an Awesome BRCC Shirt

Lucas O'Hara of Grizzly Forge has teamed up with BRCC for a badass, exclusive Shirt Club T-shirt design featuring his most popular knife and tiomahawk.

BRCC Limited Edition Josh Raulerson Blackbeard Skull Shirt
From Naval Service to Creative Canvas: BRCC Veteran Artist Josh Raulerson

Coffee or Die sits down with one of the graphic designers behind Black Rifle Coffee's signature look and vibe.

Medal of Honor is held up.
Biden Will Award Medal of Honor to Army Helicopter Pilot Who Rescued Soldiers in Vietnam Firefight

Biden will award the Medal of Honor to a Vietnam War Army helicopter pilot who risked his life to save a reconnaissance team from almost certain death.

dear jack mandaville
Dear Jack: Which Historic Battle Would You Want To Witness?

Ever wonder how much Jack Mandaville would f*ck sh*t up if he went back in time? The American Revolution didn't even see him coming.

west point time capsule
West Point Time Capsule Yields Centuries-Old Coins

A nearly 200-year-old West Point time capsule that at first appeared to yield little more than dust contains hidden treasure, the US Military Academy said.

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
Contact Us
© 2024 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved