Meet the War Lady: Royal Navy appoints first ever woman commander of a frontline warship
Master and commander: Sarah West, 40, is the first woman in the Royal Navy's history to be selected to command a major warship
It has a proud history dating back 500 years. But the Royal Navy will break new ground today by placing a woman in charge of a frontline warship.
Commander Sarah West, 40, spoke of her delight at joining HMS Portland, a 5,000-ton Type 23 frigate that is prepared for 'total warfare'.
In another milestone for the Navy, Commander Sue Moore, 43, has become the first female to skipper a flotilla of smaller ships, the First Patrol Boat Squadron (1PBS).
She is in charge of 18 P2000 Archer-class 'non-fighting' vessels which carry out maritime security operations in UK waters as well as help the Senior Service's recruitment drive.
The squadron was also involved in the recent Olympic security exercise on the Thames and two P2000s will be part of the Honour Guard during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant.
Cdr West's appointment is a remarkable achievement because women were not even allowed to go to sea with the Navy until 1990.
She said: 'Taking command of HMS Portland is definitely the highlight of my 16 years in the Royal Navy. It is a challenge that I am 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.'
HMS Portland carries surface-to-surface missiles for tackling ships, surface-to-air missiles for shooting down aircraft and a helicopter for hunting and destroying submarines.
It also has a 4.5in gun, Stingray anti-submarine torpedoes and is bristling with radar and sonar devices to guide its weapons and help with navigation.
Under new management: Commander West will lead a crew of around 180 on the British warship HMS Portland
Right at home: Commander Sarah West pictured on board HMS Shoreham in October 2011
Cdr West, from Lincolnshire, will be in charge of a crew of about 180, of which about 10 per cent are Wrens.
Of her promotion Cdr Moore, from Bath, said: 'The First Patrol Boat Squadron is an extremely busy component of the Fleet. I consider it to be a privilege to be commanding such a motivated and talented group of people.'
She said the squadron's role in providing close support to the Queen for the spectacular River Pageant during the Jubilee celebrations was a 'once in a lifetime opportunity'.
Proud and ready: The Navy's newest female skipper says her appointment is the highlight of her 16 years' service
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