Sarah West has done what no other woman has accomplished in the last 500 years: command a major Royal Navy warship.
West, 40, who is from Middlesex, recently joined the Type 23 frigate HMS Portland, which makes port in Rosynth, Fife, according to the BBC.
The Commander has been in the Royal Navy for 16 years, and stated that:
“Taking command of HMS Portland is definitely the highlight of my 16 years in the Royal Navy so far. It is a challenge that I am fully trained for and ready to undertake.”
Cdr Sarah West has commanded four minesweepers in the past, so she is no stranger to being the head of a vessel, however, she is the first woman since the British Navy’s inception half a millennium ago, to command a major warship.
Upon being appointed to the new position, BBC reports that Cdr West stated:
“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.”
AOL.com reports that the first woman in the U.S. to command a warship was Maureen Farren, who received her commission in 1998.
While women have been a part of the Royal Navy since the 1900s, they have only been serving on Navy vessels for a little over two decades, according to AOL.com.
They have seen their largest gains in just the past six months, first with the appointment of Cdr Sarah West, and also with 43-year-old Cdr Sue Moore, who became the first woman to lead a squadron of minor warships. Cdr Moore’s squadron includes 14 training vessels, 14 Navy university units, and four maritime security vessels.
AOL.com further reports that three more women will assume command of warships by the end of 2012. For now, Cdr Sarah West’s warship is undergoing a refit and will undergo trials once complete, before returning to its base in Davenport.