Royal Navy appoints first woman warship commander

Lt Cmmder Sarah West
Image caption Lieutenant Commander West will take control of HMS Portland in 2012

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, is to take control of Plymouth-based HMS Portland in April 2012.

The Type 23 frigate has a crew of 185 and carries missiles and anti-submarine torpedoes.

Lt Cdr West, who grew up in Lincolnshire and entered the Royal Navy in 1995, has previously commanded four minesweepers.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: "The Royal Navy is committed to ensuring equality of opportunity for all its personnel to enjoy challenging, fulfilling and rewarding careers."

Lt Cdr West is said to have earned her new role because of her "leadership, confidence, moral courage, sound judgment and excellent people skills".

The Royal Navy first allowed women to go to sea in 1990.

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