First Woman To Command A Warship In Royal Navy History

The British navy has been around for half a millennium, and it's changed a lot in that time. For example, it no longer sails through the Americas and Indian subcontinent declaring everything property of the crown. But in one major way it hasn't changed: Every frontline warship has been helmed by a man.

On Monday, 40-year-old Sarah West made history, reports the BBC, when she took command of the HMS Portland, a Type 23 frigate. When Henry VIII created the Royal Navy, he could never have predicted this day. West will be leading a crew of 185 -- a crew of mostly men.

West joined the Navy 16 years ago, after graduating with an honors degree in mathematics. In that time, she's served in the Middle East, and helped evacuate thousands of Britons from Beirut in 2006, as artillery fire rained down.

She's also captained four minehunters, which comb the sea for mines, inspecting and destroying them.

"Taking command of HMS Portland is definitely the highlight of my 16 years in the Navy," West said. The Mirror also thought it was important to point out that West is single.

The first woman to command a warship in the U.S. Navy was Maureen Farren in 1998.

Women first went to sea with the Royal Navy in 1696, as nurses and laundresses, with pay equal to that of seamen. That didn't feel right to a lot folks, so women were kicked off the ships by the turn of the 19th century. But they returned a century later. Women have now been serving on Navy vessels for over two decades, but they've seen the greatest gains in just the last six months.

Forty-three-year-old Commander Sue Moore recently became the first woman to lead a squadron of minor warships, which includes 14 training vessels, and 14 Navy university units, as well as four maritime security vessels. Women were first allowed onboard submarines last November, and the 24 women set to become junior officers say it's all going smoothly. Three more women will also reportedly take command of warships by the end of this year. Women can now serve in any role in any arm of the British armed forces, except those roles whose "primary duty is to close with and kill the enemy."

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Way To Go Sarah!!! Soon Women Will Take Over The World!!!! AhaaaaHaaaaaHaaaaaa!!!!
Good For Sarah!!! IT's Amazing What She Has Done!!! I am EXCITED to see how far we have come as women!!! The Stars are the LIMIT!!!

May 28 2012 at 4:27 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

What's her rank?

May 27 2012 at 11:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

There will be no true equality until women can serve on vessels whose "primary duty is to close with and kill the enemy." If you are a soldier, you're a soldier, doesn't matter what gender. Not letting women serve in the same units as men is patronizing.

May 27 2012 at 6:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Annika's comment

I wish her well and I think she will do a great job for her country. That said, war is a terrible thing- go to a veteran's hospital especially the psychiatric ward sometime. See those men with parts of their bodies and minds missing- you want to do that to women as well as men? "Closing with and killing the enemy" isn't a video game...
Patronizing is juvenile.

May 28 2012 at 10:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Congrats to her!!!!!! She will do a great job Im sure. why SOME people think women cant do the job men usually do is beyond me!

May 27 2012 at 5:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

And the point is why is it 2012 ? The first time erver????

May 26 2012 at 1:39 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to JANET's comment

First time in the British Royal Navy, not the US. Good commanders are hard to find, I wish her well and every success.

May 26 2012 at 2:06 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

It is indeed a great achievement, the time has arrived that woman are provided with better odds to explore their inner strength, and capabilities. However, woman have been ruling over the nations for quiet a long time also, and that's a great accomplishment too.This is an evidence that woman are no less competent then men are. Its only a matter of exposure. Today we see women leading in almost every field of professionalism, and from all walks of life------

May 26 2012 at 9:15 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Way to go Sarah.

May 26 2012 at 8:50 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Awesome best of luck & your so hot !!!!

May 26 2012 at 7:19 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

wave to go lol

May 26 2012 at 7:12 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply


May 26 2012 at 6:25 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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