A FEMALE Royal Navy officer has been found dead on one of the fleet’s destroyers.
Lieutenant Sara Hellawell, 26, who lived in Southsea, was found dead in her cabin by crew mates on board HMS Edinburgh on Thursday.
The Type 42 destroyer – known in the navy as the Fortress of the Sea – was alongside at Luanda Port in Angola, Africa, when Lt Hellawell’s body was discovered.
Reports suggested she took her own life but the navy said the circumstances are under investigation.
The Portsmouth-based warship is due to arrive in Cape Town, South Africa, today and Lt Hellawell’s body will be repatriated to the UK.
She worked as the ship’s deputy marine engineering officer and was responsible for making sure its systems ran smoothly.
Former housemate Michelle Mifflin, who lived with her in Landguard Road, Southsea, spoke of her shock yesterday.
She told the Daily Mirror: ‘A lot of people know Sara. She had an awful lot of friends.
‘She was a really lovely girl and will be very sorely missed.’
A statement from the Royal Navy said: ‘It is with sadness and regret that we can confirm Lieutenant Sara Hellawell, deputy marine engineer officer of the guided missile destroyer HMS Edinburgh, has died onboard her ship.
‘The next of kin have been informed. There will be an investigation and the thoughts and sympathies of the Royal Navy are with her family.’
Edinburgh left Portsmouth on May 26 and will patrol the South Atlantic for the next seven months.