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NEWS | March 22, 2021

USS Constitution Names Gun for Navy’s First Female Chief

Loretta Perfectus Walsh enlisted in the Navy on March 17, 1917, as part of the Naval Reserve Act of 1916 and was sworn in as the Navy’s first Chief Petty Officer on March 21, 1917. 


“Loretta Perfectus Walsh has made it possible for all women to serve in the military,” said Command Senior Chief Angela Collins. “I get to be here because of the women who have gone before me, and I get the honor to serve with amazing women every single day.”


“To the women of the past: Thank you for breaking down those barriers, and saying I will do it,” Collins added.


Four of USS Constitution’s female crew members gave a presentation on the historic significance of Walsh’s service. 


“To talk about Loretta Perfectus Walsh’s life holds great meaning for me and everyone around us,” said Seaman Katrina Mastrolia. “It gives me hope and determination to face the boundaries that I have in my life today.”


The event was part of the USS Constitution’s observance of Women's History Month.


Early Navy Sailors frequently named the guns they served on, and while there are no available records for the original names of Old Ironsides’ guns, some of her current guns have been given names based on records from her sister ships: USS Chesapeake and USS United States.


These names include Brother Jonathan, True Blue, Yankee Protection, Putnam, Raging Eagle, Viper, General Warren, Mad Anthony, America, Washington, Liberty for Ever, Defiance, Liberty or Death.


USS Constitution’s modern armament are replicas produced in the 1920s, and the newly-christened “Perfectus” is one of only two guns directly named by the modern crew. 


USS Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, and played a crucial role in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812, actively defending sea lanes from 1797 to 1855.


During normal operations, the active-duty Sailors stationed aboard USS Constitution provide free tours and offer public visitation to more than 600,000 people a year as they support the ship’s mission of promoting the Navy’s history and maritime heritage and raising awareness of the importance of a sustained naval presence.


USS Constitution was undefeated in battle and destroyed or captured 33 opponents.


The ship earned the nickname of Old Ironsides during the war of 1812 when British cannonballs were seen bouncing off the ship’s wooden hull.