WHEN WOMEN FIRST WENT TO SEA IN COMPLEMENT BILLETS AS PART OF THE SHIP'S COMPANY, AND ALMOST IMMEDIATELY WON FOR THEMSELVES A MEDAL!

THIS FILE HAS MANY STATISTICS OF GENERAL INTEREST TO ALL IN THE NAVY

A SNIPPET

Wrens first went to sea as members of the ship's company in the frigate HMS Brilliant, and I am sure that the Wrens did indeed think it was a brilliant idea after all the years the WRNS had served the navy and the country.  This was on the 8th October 1990 and this is a picture of those first Wrens who later were renamed as "female sailors RN".

By the 14th January 1991, the ship was involved in "Operation Granby" in the Gulf countering Saddam's Iraqi attack on Kuwait. Brilliant was one of 11 ships in the Armilla Patrol.  "Operation Granby" {named after the Marquess of Granby who led British forces during the 1759 Battle of Minden* during the Seven Years War} was the UK's name given to the period 1990-1991 in the Gulf areas, at a time when the USA called their involvement "Desert Shield" and "Desert Storm", led by that wonderful U.S., General Norman Schwarzkopf, known as 'Stormin Norman' or 'The Bear'. He was given the KCB by The Queen, an honour with few precedents. The next ship's to take females as crew were the carrier Invincible, followed by the frigate Juno, and then the frigate Battleaxe and by 1993, 490 women were in complement billets.

* Minden is in North Germany quite close to the Dutch Border and the battle was between the British and Germans versus the French and Saxons - we won and against greater numbers!  Who said that Germans were always baddies?

In 1992 female sailors shifted over to wearing R.N., gold lace and gold wire/red woven badges.

In 1997, Lieutenant Commander Vanessa Jane SPILLER Royal Navy was the first women to qualify as a PWO [U]. She went on to be the first woman to be appointed as the First Lieutenant [Executive Officer] of a major warship when she was appointed to the frigate HMS Kent in April 2001. She was promoted to Commander RN but resigned from the navy in 2007. This is her officer naval career:-

2007: Northwood (Sandy Lane)
2006: Fleet COMOPS (acronym not defined) Northwood
2005: Fleet Headquarters Northwood, Middlesex
2004: Joint Service Command and Staff College, Greenhill Houe, Shrivenham SN6 8LA
2003: HMS KENT F78 (Type 23 Frigate) 3500 tonnes, length 133 metres, beam 16.2 metres, complement 173, armament 114mm gun, Harpoon & Vertical launch Seawolf missile systems, anti submarine torpedo tubes, close range guns, Lynx helicopter. BFPO318.
2002: As above
2001: As above
2000: Captain Sixth Frigate Squadron. Seagoing appointment
1999: HMS SHEFFIELD, Type 22 Frigate, 4,600 tonnes, length 148 metres, beam 14.7 metres, complement 256, armament exocet missile system, Seawolf missile system, Anti-submarine torpedo tubes, close range guns, Lynx helicopter
1998: As above
1997: HMS DRYAD, Southwick, Fareham, Hants
1996: As above
1995: HMS BRAVE Type 22 Frigate 4100 tons
1994: HMS BROADSWORD Type 22 Frigate 3556 tons
1993: HMS DRYAD, Southwick, Fareham, Hants
1992: Communications Centre Southwick
1991: HMS MERCURY, Leydene, Petersfield, Hants

In April this coming year [2012] Commander Sarah West Royal Navy will become the Commanding Officer of the frigate HMS Portland, the first woman appointed to such a position. This is Sarah's officer career to date:-

Sarah West

Rank History

Lieutenant-Commander Royal Navy 1|10|2005
Lieutenant Royal Navy 1|11|1996
Sub Lieutenant Royal Navy 1|9|1994
 

Decorations and Post Nominals

BSc
 

RN Branch Arm or Group (2007 style)

War GS PWO(U)
 

Branch and Specialisation (pre 2007 style)

X

Served in :

2010: {MCM1} Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde
2009: HMS RAMSEY M110 (Sandown Class MCMV) 450 tonnes, length 52.7 metres, beam 10.5 metres, complement 34, armament 30mm close range gun, remote control mine disposal system. BFPO368.
2008: Permanent Joint Headquarters, Sandy Lane, Northwood, HA6 3AP
2007: Northwood (Sandy Lane)
2006: No officer service
2005: No officer service
2004: No officer service
2003: No officer service
2002: No officer service
2001: No officer service
2000: No officer service
1999: No officer service
1998: HMS COTTESMORE M32 (Hunt Class MCMV) 685 tonnes, length 57 metres, beam 10 metres, complement 42, armament 30 mm close range gun, remote control min disposal system.
1997: HMS DRYAD, Southwick, Fareham, Hants
1996: HMS SANDOWN M101 (Sandown Class MCMV) 450 tonnes, length 52.7 metres, beam 10.5 metres, complement 34, armament 30mm close range gun, remote control mine disposal system.

She appears not to have had any frigate/destroyer experience and only three small sweepers, so to be given command of a frigate seems odd given my experiences.  Her break in service is probably the time she did her Honours Degree in Law. The BSc referred to above is from her time at Hertfordshire University where she read Mathematics, joining Dartmouth direct in 1995. She must have something special to be so favourably fast-tracked without first going through the 'mill' !

Katherine Louis Murray BABBINGTON joined the navy with a BSc degree and went to Dartmouth. She became famous in 1997 for being the first women to win the Queen's Sword at Dartmouth.  She had a very short career! This is her record:-

Katharine Louise Murray BABBINGTON

Rank History

Lieutenant Royal Navy 1|1|1998
Sub Lieutenant Royal Navy 1|1|1995
 

Decorations and Post Nominals

BSc
 

RN Branch Arm or Group (2007 style)


 

Branch and Specialisation (pre 2007 style)

X
 

Served in :

1999: No officer service
1998: HMS SANDOWN M101 (Sandown Class MCMV) 450 tonnes, length 52.7 metres, beam 10.5 metres, complement 34, armament 30mm close range gun, remote control mine disposal system.
1997: Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, Devon
1996: As above

In 1998 the first female officers  were given Commands.

Lieutenant Melanie ROBINSON Royal Navy was given Command of HMS Express [43 tons] attached to Cardiff University

This is Melanie's record:-

Melanie Suzanne ROBINSON

Retired before 1973: No
 

Rank History

Lieutenant-Commander Royal Navy 1|10|2000
Lieutenant Royal Navy 1|6|1994
 

Decorations and Post Nominals

MSc
 

RN Branch Arm or Group (2007 style)


 

Branch and Specialisation (pre 2007 style)

X
 

Served in :

2003: No officer service
2002: Maritime Warfare School, HMS DRYAD, Southwick, Fareham, Hants
2001: HMS DRYAD, Southwick, Fareham, Hants
2000: As above
1999: University Royal Naval Unit Cardiff HMS Express in Command
1998 As above

and Lieutenant Suzanne Moore Royal Navy was given Command of HMS Dasher [43 tons] attached to Bristol University

This is Suzanne's record, and as I write, she is still serving. Given her seniority it rather looks as though she might be the First Lieutenant of the Portland, the ship which is soon to have the first female Commanding Officer:-  

Suzanne Kathryn Moore

Retired before 1973: No
 

Rank History

Lieutenant-Commander Royal Navy 1|11|2001
Lieutenant Royal Navy 1|11|1993
Sub Lieutenant Royal Navy 1|5|1991
 

Decorations and Post Nominals

BEd pce n MSc
 

RN Branch Arm or Group (2007 style)

War GS PWO(U)
 

Branch and Specialisation (pre 2007 style)

X PWO(U)
 

Served in :

2010: HMS PORTLAND F79 (Type 23 Frigate) 3500 tonnes, length 133 metres, beam 16.2 metres, complement 173, armament 114mm gun, Harpoon & Vertical launch Seawolf missile systems, anti submarine torpedo tubes, close range guns, Lynx helicopter. BFPO361.
2009: As above
2008: As above
2007: Northwood (Sandy Lane)
2006: Fleet COMOPS (acronym not defined) Northwood
2005: Fleet Headquarters Northwood, Middlesex
2004: Commodore Amphibious Task Group - Seagoing appointment
2003: As above
2002: HMS SHEFFIELD, Type 22 Frigate, 4,600 tonnes, length 148 metres, beam 14.7 metres, complement 256, armament exocet missile system, Seawolf missile system, Anti-submarine torpedo tubes, close range guns, Lynx helicopter
2001: As above
2000: HMS DRYAD, Southwick, Fareham, Hants
1999: University Royal Naval Unit Bristol
1998: As above
1997: HMS CHATHAM F87 (Type 22 Frigate) 4600 tonnes, length 148 metres, beam 14.7 metres, complement 259, armament 114mm gun, Harpoon & Seawolf missile systems, anti submarine torpedo tubes, Goalkeeper gun system, close range guns, Lynx helicopter. BFPO253.
1996: HMS DRYAD, Southwick, Fareham, Hants
1995: HMS SHEFFIELD, Type 22 Frigate, 4,600 tonnes, length 148 metres, beam 14.7 metres, complement 256, armament exocet missile system, Seawolf missile system, Anti-submarine torpedo tubes, close range guns, Lynx helicopter
1994: HMS ALDERNEY P278 (Island Class Offshore Patrol Vessel) 1,100 tonnes, length 59.5 metres, beam 10.97 metres, complement 37, armament 40mm close range gun.
1993: HMS BRILLIANT Type 22 Frigate 3556 tons
1992: No officer service

In 2003, Lieutenant Charlotte ATKINSON was appointed in Commanding Officer of the sweeper Brecon, at that point the largest vessel commanded by a female. Brecon was based on Faslane.  She must be in zone for a third stripe and the diversity of her career is impressive.  This is Charlotte's record:-

Charlotte Penelope Atkinson

Retired before 1973: No
 

Rank History

Lieutenant-Commander Royal Navy 1|10|2004
Lieutenant Royal Navy 1|4|1995
Sub Lieutenant Royal Navy 1|1|1993
 

Decorations and Post Nominals

BSc
 

RN Branch Arm or Group (2007 style)

War GS HM PWO
 

Branch and Specialisation (pre 2007 style)

X HM2

Served in :

2010: Commander Amphibious Task Group RM Barracks, Stonehouse, Plymouth PL1 3QS
2009: NATO Communication and Information Sytems School Naples
2008: HMS CAMPBELTOWN F86 (Type 22 Frigate) 4600 tonnes, length 148 metres, beam 14.7 metres, complement 259, armament 114mm gun, Harpoon & Seawolf missile systems, anti submarine torpedo tubes, Goalkeeper gun system, close range guns, Lynx helicopter. BFPO248
2007: Fareham HMS COLLINGWOOD, Newgate Lane, Fareham, Hants
2006: Maritime Warfare School, HMS COLLINGWOOD, Fareham, Hampshire
2005: HMS BRECON M29 (Hunt Class MCMV) 685 tonnes, length 57 metres, bean 10 metres, complement 42, armament 30 mm close range gun, remote control min disposal system.
2004: As above
2003: Joint Service Command and Staff College, Greenhill Houe, Shrivenham SN6 8LA
2002: Exchange Service with New Zealand
2001: HMS HERALD Survey Ship H138 2,730 tonnes, length 79.2 metres, beam 14.8 metres, complement 118.
2000: HMS ENDURANCE A171 (AntArctic Patrol Ship) 6500 tonnes. BFPO279.
1999: HMS ROEBUCK H130 (Bulldog Class Coastal Survey Vessel) 1300 tonnes, length 64 metres, beam 13 metres, complement 51. BFPO376.
1998: HMS SEAHAWK, Royal Naval Air Station, Culdrose, Helston, Cornwall
1997: HMS DUMBARTON CASTLE P265 (Castle Class Offshore Patrol Vessel) 1475 tonnes, length 81 metres, beam 11.5 metres, complement 42, armament 30mm close range gun. BFPO274.
1996: As above
1995: Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, Devon
1994: As above
1993: No officer service

In 2004, Captain Carolyn STAIT Royal Navy was promoted to Commodore and appointed as Naval Base Commander Clyde. She was the first female officer to attain this substantive rank. Carolyn was an officer with no sea experience {Dry List}. This is her record:-

Carolyn Jane STAIT

Rank History

Commodore Royal Navy 22|6|2004
Captain Royal Navy 31|12|1998
Commander Royal Navy 30|6|1992
Lieutenant-Commander Royal Navy|First Officer Women's Royal Naval Service 1|4|1988
Second Officer Women's Royal Naval Service 1|4|1980
Third Officer Women's Royal Naval Service 26|7|1977 nelson
 

Decorations and Post Nominals

OBE ADC FCIPD psc
 

RN Branch Arm or Group (2007 style)

Logs GS W L
 

Branch and Specialisation (pre 2007 style)

S
 

Served in :

2008: No officer service
2007: Helensburgh (Clyde Submarine Base)
2006: HMS NEPTUNE DLO, Faslane, Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute Defence Logistic Organisation
2005: As above
2004: As above
2003: Naval Manning Agency Portsmouth
2002: As above
2001: Second Sea Lord|Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command
2000: As above
1999: As above
1998: Chief of Fleet Support staff at HMS NEPTUNE, Faslane
1997: HMS NEPTUNE, Faslane, Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute G84 8HL
1996: Second Sea Lord|Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command
1995: Flag Officer Naval Aviation
1994: As above
1993: As above
1992: Ministry of Defence, London
1991: As above
1990: As above
1989: HMS MERCURY, Leydene, Petersfield, Hants
1988: As above
1987: Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, Devon
1986: As above
1985: Flag Officer, Plymouth
1984: Centurion Building, Grange Road, Gosport, Hants
1983: HMS ROOKE, Naval Base, Gibraltar
1982: HMS ROYAL ARTHUR, Corsham, Wiltshire
1981: Royal Naval Engineering College, Manadon, Plymouth, Devon
1980: As above
1979: No officer service
1978: HMS PRESIDENT Postal Address SurreyHouse, Lavington Street, London SE1
1977: No officer service

Quite recently in September 1990 the Reverend Caroline Eglin [nee Pullman] was commissioned into the Royal Navy as the first women Chaplain.

Back in 1979, a major Fleet Establishment saw a woman appointed as First Lieutenant, the first female appointment ever made. She was a First Officer WRNS {two and a half stripes} and her name was Rosie Ball. I had the honour and privilege to be her Standing Officer of the Watch. This is a picture of those times

 

Nearly ten years later, First Officer WRNS Jane Salt was appointed as the First Lieutenant of Greenwich RN College, a much smaller outfit than a Fleet Establishment with over 100 acres and over a thousand people to look after. I am absolutely certain that had Rosie been younger and therefore in a different time period, she too would have reach the RN rank of Commander, just the same as Jane did, and I think beyond that rank too.  However, Rosie fell in love with a widower RN officer and left the Service to be a housewife. Jane had no sea experience and was promoted on the Dry List. This is her record:-

Jane Elizabeth Salt

Rank History

Commander Royal Navy 31|12|1994
Lieutenant-Commander Royal Navy|First Officer Women's Royal Naval Service 1|10|1986
Second Officer Women's Royal Naval Service 1|4|1977
 

Decorations and Post Nominals

psc
 

RN Branch Arm or Group (2007 style)


 

Branch and Specialisation (pre 2007 style)
 

Served in :

1998: No officer service
1997: Ministry of Defence, London
1996: As above
1995: As above
1994: As above
1993: As above
1992: Royal Naval Staff Course, Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London SE10 9NN
1991: Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command
1990: Royal Naval College Greenwich, Central Support Staff
1989: Royal Naval Staff Course, Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London SE10 9NN
1988: HMS COLLINGWOOD, Newgate Lane, Fareham, Hants
1987: No officer service
1986: Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command
1985: As above
1984: Centurion Building, Grange Road, Gosport, Hants
1983: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
1982: Serving in a NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) Appointment
1981: No officer service

On the 15th October 1993, Commandant Anne Spencer, the last Director WRNS, retired and the post was abolished. She was succeeded by Captain Julia Simpson RN, with the title Chief Officer for Women in the Royal Naval Service who had been appointed to the post on the 12th March 1991: DCI[RN]259/93 refers. This is her record:-

Anne Christine Spencer

Rank History

Commandant, Women's Royal Naval Service 12|3|1991
Superintendent Womens Royal Naval Service 1|10|1986
Chief Officer Women's Royal Naval Service 1|10|1979
First Officer Women's Royal Naval Service 1|11|1972
 

Decorations and Post Nominals

ADC AMHCIMA psc
 

RN Branch Arm or Group (2007 style)


 

Branch and Specialisation (pre 2007 style)

{CM*}
 

Served in :

1994: No officer service
1993: Ministry of Defence, London
1992: As above
1991: As above
1990: Flag Officer, Plymouth
1989: NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institute) Headquarters
1988: As above
1987: As above
1986: Ministry of Defence, London
1985: As above
1984: Ministry of Defence Naval Secretary
1983: Naval Secretary
1982: As above
1981: Military Agency for Standardisation, Brussels
1980: As above
1979: Director General Naval Personal Services
1978: Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London, SE10
1977: Defence Intelligence Staff
1976: Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London, SE10
1975: As above
1974: HMS PEMBROKE, Naval Base, Chatham, Kent
1973: HMS PHOENIX, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth

By 1993, there were 490 women at sea in RN ships, but since the intention was 8000, there was a still a long way to go. In November 2011 the size of the navy excluding reserves but including women and Royal Marines was 36640 and dropping. This means that the aim is to have approximately 28000 naval male and Royal Marines with one seventh women . This table shows the state of play as at the 1 November 2011. The table below shows the percentages of women in each of the armed forces.

 

Table 2 - Strength of UK Armed Forces1 - full time trained and untrained personnel
                                 
As at 1 November 2011 the UK Armed Forces comprised 189,560 personnel of which 173,830 were trained and counted against the requirement. There were 13,990 untrained personnel.
                                 
                                 
    2009   2010   2011   2011     2011   2011   2011  
    1 Apr   1 Apr   1 Apr   1 Aug     1 Sep   1 Oct   1 Nov  
UK Armed Forces1 194 550   197 770 p 192 290 p 189 870 p   189 300 p 189 860 p 189 560  
   Trained and serving against requirement 2 174 170 || 177 840 p 176 810 p 175 200 p || 174 450 p 174 020 p 173 830  
   FTRS serving against additional requirement *   1 320 p 1 530 p 1 640 p   1 680 p 1 710 p 1 740  
   Untrained 20 380   18 610 p 13 950 p 13 040 p || 13 160 p 14 120 p 13 990  
                                 
                                 
UK Regular Forces3 188 600   191 660 p 186 360 p 184 030 p   183 440 p 184 010 p 183 710  
Trained 168 510   173 260 p 172 580 p 171 170 p   170 460 p 170 060 p 169 770  
Untrained 20 100   18 400 p 13 770 p 12 860 p   12 980 p 13 950 p 13 940  
                                 
  Naval Service 38 340   38 730 p 37 660 p 37 040 p   36 800 p 36 760 p 36 640  
     Trained 34 400   35 170 p 35 250 p 34 890 p   34 700 p 34 560 p 34 440  
     Untrained 3 940   3 560 p 2 410 p 2 150 p   2 100 p 2 200 p 2 200  
                                 
  Army 106 700   108 870 p 106 230 p 105 180 p   104 930 p 105 680 p 105 740  
     Trained 4 94 870   97 980 p 97 270 p 96 540 p || 96 180 p 96 110 p 96 070  
     Untrained 4 11 830   10 900 p 8 970 p 8 640 p || 8 740 p 9 560 p 9 670  
                                 
  Royal Air Force 43 560   44 050 p 42 460 p 41 800 p   41 720 p 41 580 p 41 330  
     Trained 39 240   40 110 p 40 070 p 39 730 p   39 570 p 39 390 p 39 260  
     Untrained 4 320   3 940 p 2 400 p 2 070 p   2 150 p 2 190 p 2 070  
                                 
                                 
Full Time UK Non-Regular Forces5 5 950   6 120 p 5 940 p 5 850 p   5 850 p 5 840 p 5 850  
Trained 5 660   5 900 p 5 760 p 5 670 p   5 680 p 5 670 p 5 800  
  Gurkhas 3 560   3 630 p 3 710 p 3 640 p   3 630 p 3 620 p 3 730  
  FTRS serving against the requirement 2 2 100 || 960 p 520 p 390 p   370 p 340 p 330  
  FTRS serving against additional requirement *   1 320 p 1 530 p 1 640 p   1 680 p 1 710 p 1 740  
Untrained 280   210 p 180 p 180 p   180 p 170 p 50  
  Gurkhas 280   210 p 180 p 180 p   180 p 170 p 50  
  FTRS6 *   *   *   *     *   *   *  
Source: DASA (Quad-Service)
                                 
1. UK Armed Forces comprises all UK Regular Forces and full time UK Non-Regular Forces but excludes mobilised reservists.
2. Prior to 1 July 2009 figures include some FTRS personnel that were not deployable overseas. See Glossary for more details.
3. UK Regular Forces comprises trained and untrained personnel. It does not include Gurkhas, Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS) personnel and mobilised reservists.
4. From 1 September 2011, the Army has changed its definition of 'trained Officer' to exclude those who have not yet passed Phase II training. This change brings it into line with the other Services.  
5. Full Time UK Non-Regular Forces comprises Gurkhas and Full Time Reserve Service Personnel (FTRS). Mobilised Reservists are not classed as Full Time UK Non-Regular Forces.  
6. For a reservist to serve full time they are required to be trained.
                                 
Data from the Joint Personnel Administration System for 2006 to 2009 have been reviewed and finalised, therefore some figures may differ from previous publications. As a result of improvements in the quality of data sourced from JPA and the monthly data validation processes, DASA consider all data from 1 November 2011 to be fit for purpose. Consequently data published from 1 November 2011 onwards are considered finalised and will no longer be marked as provisional. Please see the introduction for more details.  
                                 

 

WOMEN IN THE ARMED FORCES BY PERCENTAGES AGAINST DATES WITH THE NAVY [WHICH INCLUDES MARINES] HAVING 8.6% AS AT 1 APRIL 2011. This is 8.6% of 36640 = 3151 women serving today.

Graph 3.1: Females as a percentage of strength by Service

AND THIS GRAPH SHOWS THE PERCENTAGE OF BLACKS AND MINORITY ETHNICS {BME} IN THE ARMED FORCES AGAINST DATES WITH THE NAVY HAVING 2% AS AT 1 APRIL 2011. This means that the Navy has a BME of 733 which, year on year, appears to be reducing.

 

Graph 3.2: BME personnel as a percentage of strength by Service
 
Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) percentage figures are based on those with a known ethnic origin.

 

Finally, as a light-hearted tease [all part of the Royal Navy] I will mention the Fleet Air Arms' attempt to 'Fight Tights'. As though losing the Tot issue wasn't bad enough in 1970, in 1975 the Navy decided to get rid of black nylon stockings for Wrens and in lieu to issue black tights. The infamous document conveying the edict was DCI T641/75 which said that the stockings [Vocabs 45500-05] were out and that BR81 and BR96 would be amended. This move had a profound affect upon the morale of the Fleet!