London: A British naval officer is all set
to become the first woman in the 500-year history of the Royal
Navy to command a frontline warship, a media report said.
Lieutenant Commander Sarah West, 39, will take control of
HMS Portland and its mostly male crew of 185. After promotion
to a 65,000 pounds-a-year Commander, she is ready to take her
ship to war anywhere in the world, `The Sun` reported.
Women have previously commanded only small non-fighting
Navy ships such as fishery protection vessels.
But, naval top brass said 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".
HMS Portland boasts Harpoon and Sea Wolf missile systems,
4.5 inches guns and Stingray anti-submarine torpedoes. The
5,000-ton ship, top speed 30 knots, also carries a helicopter
and can engage in "total warfare".
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. Wrens make up ten per cent of
an average warship crew.
Unmarried Lt Cdr West, who was raised in Lincolnshire and
studied maths at University of Hertfordshire, has captained
A Royal Navy spokesman said" "We can confirm the
appointment of Lt Cdr Sarah West, who will be Commander West
from January as CO of HMS Portland. She will take over command
in April 2012.
"The Royal Navy is committed to ensuring equality
of opportunity for all its personnel to enjoy challenging,
fulfilling and rewarding careers."