UK — Milestones reached for women in the Royal Navy

Two Roy­al Navy com­man­ders have accom­plished two major achieve­ments in the his­to­ry of women in the senior Ser­vice.

Com­man­der Sarah West at work in com­mand of Sandown class Mine Coun­ter­mea­sures ves­sel HMS Shore­ham (library image) [Pic­ture: Lead­ing Air­man (Pho­tog­ra­ph­er) M Hogan, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
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Com­man­der Sarah West, aged 40, joins Type 23 frigate HMS Port­land in Rosyth today, becom­ing the first woman in the Roy­al Navy’s his­to­ry to be select­ed to com­mand a major warship. 

Anoth­er mile­stone was recent­ly achieved as Com­man­der Sue Moore, 43, became the first woman to com­mand a squadron of minor war ves­sels; the 1st Patrol Boat Squadron (1PBS).

Com­man­ders West and Moore, both expe­ri­enced com­mand­ing offi­cers, are part of a cohort of tal­ent­ed female offi­cers and rat­ings who joined the Roy­al Navy to serve at sea, and who are now under­tak­ing, or approach­ing, key appoint­ments in their naval careers. 

Com­man­ders West and Moore’s achieve­ments are based on a com­bined 36 years of hard work and expe­ri­ence in the Roy­al Navy, with deploy­ments rang­ing from the Gulf to the Balka­ns, to counter-nar­cotics patrols in the Caribbean. 

Since women first went to sea in the Roy­al Navy in 1990, they have achieved suc­cess in many fields, and have become pilots, observers and mine clear­ance divers. In Decem­ber it was announced that women will join their male coun­ter­parts in sub­marines from 2013. 

Com­man­der Moore was one of the first two female offi­cers to com­mand a Roy­al Navy war­ship, HMS Dash­er, in 1998. In addi­tion to Com­man­der West com­mand­ing HMS Port­land, it is expect­ed that three minor war ves­sels will be com­mand­ed by females by the end of this year. 

HMS Port­land is cur­rent­ly in refit in Rosyth, Scot­land, and Com­man­der West will face the chal­lenge of lead­ing HMS Port­land from refit to oper­a­tional task­ing, a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge for the command. 

On com­ple­tion of the refit, the ship will com­plete a series of tri­als before return­ing to her base port in Devon­port before the end of the year and prepar­ing for her next tasking. 

Com­man­der West said: 

“Tak­ing com­mand of HMS Port­land is def­i­nite­ly the high­light of my 16 years in the RN so far. It is a chal­lenge that I am ful­ly trained for and ready to undertake. 

“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.” 

Com­man­der Moore has 14 P2000 Archer Class train­ing ves­sels, based around the UK, under her com­mand, with 14 Uni­ver­si­ty Roy­al Naval Units attached. She over­sees a fur­ther four P2000s which car­ry out mar­itime secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions roles. 

1PBS, based in Portsmouth, was involved in the recent Olympic secu­ri­ty exer­cise on the Thames, and two P2000s will be part of the Hon­our Guard dur­ing the forth­com­ing Queen’s Dia­mond Jubilee Pageant. 

Com­man­der Moore said: 

“The First Patrol Boat Squadron is an extreme­ly busy com­po­nent of the Fleet, and as an ex-P2000 com­mand­ing offi­cer myself I con­sid­er it to be a priv­i­lege to be com­mand­ing such a moti­vat­ed and tal­ent­ed group of peo­ple, and such a diverse organisation. 

“My ships, sailors and uni­ver­si­ty units are respon­si­ble for influ­enc­ing high cal­i­bre under­grad­u­ates in mil­i­tary and mar­itime issues, but also for pro­vid­ing a plat­form for young com­mand­ing offi­cers to devel­op into the future lead­ers of the Roy­al Navy. 

“It is also a once in a life­time oppor­tu­ni­ty for my squadron to pro­vide close sup­port to Her Majesty The Queen dur­ing the forth­com­ing Riv­er Pageant.” 

Com­man­der Sue Moore

Com­man­der Moore, who lives in Bath, grew up in Sus­sex before com­plet­ing a degree at Carnegie Col­lege in Leeds. She joined the Roy­al Navy as a war­fare offi­cer in 1992 and spent the next few years qual­i­fy­ing as a bridge watch­keep­er, deploy­ing to the Balka­ns, the Gulf and the Far East. In 1996, she qual­i­fied as a nav­i­ga­tor and was select­ed to nav­i­gate HMS Chatham, the last ship to leave Hong Kong on the han­dover to Chi­na, before becom­ing Com­mand­ing Offi­cer (CO) of HMS Dash­er in 1998. 

Sue qual­i­fied as a prin­ci­pal war­fare offi­cer in 2001 and com­plet­ed a counter-nar­cotics tour in the Caribbean as the oper­a­tions offi­cer on HMS Sheffield, fol­lowed by a NATO deploy­ment to the Mediter­ranean in sup­port of actions after 9/11. After run­ning the Mar­itime Spe­cial Oper­a­tions unit at North­wood, spe­cial­is­ing in counter-ter­ror and counter-nar­cotics ops, she returned to sea as a Lieu­tenant Com­man­der in 2007 and served in HMS Port­land as Exec­u­tive Officer. 

Com­man­der Sarah West

Com­man­der West, who lives in Mid­dle­sex, joined the RN in 1995.Born and edu­cat­ed in Lin­colnshire, she grad­u­at­ed from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hert­ford­shire with an hon­ours degree in math­e­mat­ics. Trained as a war­fare offi­cer, she has had a num­ber of sea appoint­ments, which includ­ed a deploy­ment to the Gulf in HMS Sheffield with­in her first two years. 

Her appoint­ment to the Com­man­der Amphibi­ous Task Group as the under water spe­cial­ist includ­ed the plan­ning and exe­cu­tion of oper­a­tions and exer­cis­es around the world, includ­ing the evac­u­a­tion in Beirut. Mov­ing to the staff at the Per­ma­nent Joint Head­quar­ters in North­wood, she helped coor­di­nate UK oper­a­tions in the Gulf and con­tributed to Oper­a­tion TELIC in Iraq. 

Between April 2009 and Decem­ber 2011, she com­mand­ed HMS Ram­sey, HMS Pen­zance, HMS Pem­broke and most recent­ly HMS Shore­ham as part of the 1st Mine Coun­ter­mea­sures Squadron. Her time on HMS Pem­broke includ­ed eight-and-a-half months deployed on oper­a­tions in the Gulf. 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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