First woman to command major RN warship

A woman is to command a frontline warship for the first time in the 500-year history of the Royal Navy. Lieutenant Commander Sarah West, 39, will take control of the Type 23 frigate HMS Portland and a mostly male crew of 185 in April. BritishForcesNews reports (08 Aug).

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Full description from ForcesNews:

A woman is to command a frontline warship for the first time in the 500-year history of the Royal Navy. Lieutenant Commander Sarah West, 39, will take control of the Type 23 frigate HMS Portland and a mostly male crew of 185 in April. After promotion to a £65,000-a-year Commander, she must be ready to take her ship to war anywhere in the world. Women have previously commanded only small non-fighting Navy ships such as fishery protection vessels. But Lt Cdr West had seen off tough competition from male officers to win the role on merit due to her "leadership, confidence, moral courage, sound judgement and exceptional people skills". Lt Cdr West, who was born and raised in Lincolnshire, studied maths at the University of Hertfordshire before joining Britannia Royal Naval College in September 1995. She has captained four minehunters and takes over from Commander Mike Knott who has held the position since January 2010. Lt Cdr West's appointment marks a historic chapter for the "Senior Service", which was founded in the reign of Henry VIII. The Navy first allowed women to go to sea in 1990, and it now has 620 female officers. HMS Portland has Harpoon and Sea Wolf missile systems, 4.5in guns and anti-submarine torpedoes.

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