A WOMAN will command a warship for the first time in Britains 500-year-old naval history, a media report said on Monday. Thirty-nine-year-old Lieutenant Commander Sarah West will take control of the Type 23 frigate HMS Portland. The vessel has 185 crew members, mostly male. HMS Portland boasts of Harpoon and Sea Wolf missile systems and Sting-ray anti-submarine torpedoes, among others. The 5,000-tonne ship, with a top speed 30 knots, also carries a helicopter and can engage in total warfare. Wests appointment marks a historic chapter for the Senior Service, which was founded in the reign of Henry VIII, The Sun newspaper wrote. Women have previously commanded only small non-fighting navy ships such as fishery protection vessels. But top brass said Lt Cdr West had seen off tough competition from male officers to win the role on merit due to her leadership, confidence, moral courage, sound judgment and exceptional people skills, The Sun said. Agencies