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Royal Navy's first female commander

Commander Sarah West, 40, who takes up her post today as the first woman to command a major warship Credit: PA

Commander Sarah West will become the first female commander of a major Royal Navy warship when she takes up her post later today.

The 40 year-old will take over command of frigate HMS Portland.

The warship is undergoing a refit and, on completion, it will undergo a series of trials before returning to its base port in Devonport before the end of the year. It will then be prepared for its next operational tasking.

Cmdr West said: "Taking command of HMS Portland is definitely the highlight of my 16 years in the RN (Royal Navy) 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."