First Ever Female Commander For Navy Ship

The first female commander of a major Royal Navy warship is taking up her post today (Tuesday 22nd May 2012).

Commander Sarah West, 40, from Middlesex, joins Type 23 frigate HMS Portland in Rosyth, Fife.

The warship is undergoing a refit and, on completion, it will undergo a series of trials before returning to its base port in Devonport before the end of the year. It will then be prepared for its next operational tasking.

Cmdr West said:

 ''Taking command of HMS Portland is definitely the highlight of my 16 years in the RN (Royal Navy) so far.

''It is a challenge that I am fully trained for and ready to undertake.

''I am very proud to be taking command of a Type 23 frigate, which is an extremely flexible warship, and I'm looking forward to taking HMS Portland on operations with a professional and focused team.''

In another milestone for the Royal Navy, Commander Sue Moore, 43, recently became the first woman to command a squadron of minor war vessels, the First Patrol Boat Squadron (1PBS), based in Portsmouth.

Cmdr Moore, from Bath, and Cmdr West have a combined 36 years of experience in the Navy.

Their achievements include deployments ranging from the Gulf to the Balkans to counter-narcotics patrols in the Caribbean.

The pair have been described as being part of a ''cohort of talented female officers'' who joined the Royal Navy to serve at sea and are now undertaking or approaching key appointments in their naval careers.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that since women went to sea with the Navy in 1990, they have achieved success in many fields and have become pilots, observers and mine clearance divers.

Last December, it was announced that women will join their male counterparts in submarines from 2013.

Cmdr Moore was one of the first two female officers to command a Royal Navy warship, HMS Dasher, in 1998.

She has 14 P2000 Archer Class training vessels under her command, two of which will be part of the Honour Guard during the forthcoming Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

In addition to Cmdr West commanding HMS Portland, the MoD said it expects three minor war vessels will be commanded by females by the end of this year.

Cmdr Moore said:

 ''The First Patrol Boat Squadron is an extremely busy component of the Fleet, and as an ex-P2000 commanding officer myself, I consider it to be a privilege to be commanding such a motivated and talented group of people, and such a diverse organisation.

''My ships, sailors and university units are responsible for influencing high calibre undergraduates in military and maritime issues, but also for providing a platform for young commanding officers to develop into the future leaders of the Royal Navy.

''It is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for my squadron to provide close support to Her Majesty the Queen during the forthcoming River Pageant.''