British woman becomes first warship commander

May 22nd, 2012 - 8:37 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 22 (IANS) A 40-year-old woman officer of the Royal Navy broke 500 years of tradition Tuesday by becoming the first woman commander of a warship.

Commander Sarah West took command of the Type 23 frigate HMS Portland at Rosyth in Scotland, the Daily Express reported.

The frigate was originally designed for anti-submarine warfare but can also engage enemy aircraft and warships.

Another 43-year-old woman, Commander Sue Moore became the first woman to command a squadron of minor war vessels, the First Patrol Boat Squadron, in Portsmouth.

Among her duties will be providing two vessels for the Honour Guard during Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee.

Women were allowed to serve at sea in the Royal Navy only in 1990.

Three other women officers are also expected to be given command of minor war vessels by the end of the year.

West, from Middlesex, has served in the Gulf, was a coordinator during the Iraq war and planned the evacuation of 4,600 civilians from Lebanon in 2006.

She has a mathematics degree from the University of Hertfordshire and also a law degree.

Moore, from Bath, is a graduate of the Carnegie College in Leeds. She has served in the Balkans and the Gulf and on counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean.

She navigated the HMS Chatham, the last ship to leave Hong Kong following the handover to China in 1997.

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