RAISING their caps in the air, female sailors on board HMS Dragon celebrated a milestone in their history by emulating the first women who went to sea.
Lining the Portsmouth-based destroyer’s gangway in Naples, 14 sailors recreated the historic photograph 20 years after the Women’s Royal Naval Service passed into history.
Around one in five of HMS Dragon’s crew is female, and a few of them even go back to those pioneering days of women at sea.
Petty Officer (Communications and Information Systems) Lavina Sparling, said: ‘When I signed up, I joined the WRNS.
‘It hadn’t occurred to me that one afternoon while at HMS Raleigh, I would be summoned to Dauntless Block to be told women were going to sea for the first time.
‘That was it. I’ve been in seagoing navy ever since and loved being at sea.
‘In my time in the navy it has gone from a telephone call once a week, to internet and e-mail on board.
‘Leaving my daughter has been the hardest part of this deployment for me, although the technology we have aboard today does make it easier.’
The first female sailors to go to sea joined HMS Brilliant in Devonport on October 8, 1990.
Three years later, on November 1, 1993, the WRNS ceased to exist as a separate entity and merged with the rest of the Senior Service.