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Billie Farrell Becomes First Woman Commander Of USS Constitution

CHARLESTOWN (CBS) – For the first time in its 224-year history, the USS Constitution has a woman as commander.

Commander Billie Farrell became the first woman to serve as captain of Old Ironsides Friday after a change-of-command ceremony at noon.

Commander Farrell once posed in front of Old Ironsides in 1998 as a high school student and as she poses for photos now, she let's out a laugh as she takes it all in.

"Standing next to the ship 24 years ago, there's no way I would've predicted I would be standing here one day as the Captain. It's unbelievable," said Commander Farrell.

Farrell relives Cmdr. John Benda, who has led the ship's crew for the past two years.

Billie Farrell
USS Constitution Commander Billie Farrell. (WBZ-TV)

"Turning the ship over and the crew over, I could not be doing it to a better naval officer. The ship is in great hands," said Cmdr. Benda during the ceremony.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu was in attendance and told WBZ-TV, "we are just so proud to be home to this moment and this legacy in our country."

"It's great to be part of history every day and to make it as well," said Farrell.

Farrell previously served as the executive officer aboard the USS Vicksburg. She is a native of Kentucky and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Arkansas.

The USS Constitution is the world's oldest commissioned warship.

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