Penny's breaking boundaries under the waves

Penny's breaking boundaries under the waves

A WOMAN from Liversedge has become one of the first female Royal Navy submariners.

Penny Thackray, 39, is set to serve on Vanguard-class nuclear submarines after completing her training.

She is among three to make the breakthrough since the ban on women serving on submarines was lifted in 2011.

Lt Thackray, of Hightown, will also be able to work on board the navy’s new Astute-class ‘stealth’ submarines.

Education officer Lt Thackray is joined by fellow lieutenants Maxine Stiles and Alexandra Olsson.

Training so far, which has seen the trio earn their ‘Dolphins’, the clasp worn by qualified submariners, included trials on HMS Vigilant.

They also had to pass an exam before going on to further training with the aim of starting duty next year.

Lt Thackray said of life beneath the waves: “You limit your horizons. I just forget the outside world, you get a whole new world.”

Females were banned from submarines due to ‘health risks’, but a review found only that pregnant woman should not serve.

Logistics officer Lt Stiles said: “Women are absolutely capable of doing this job. I look forward to seeing more and more women getting on board.”

Nuclear warhead-armed HMS Vigilant, launched in 1995, is recently back on active duty after a £300m mid-life refit.

Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral David Steel said: “Women have been serving in ships at sea with the Royal Navy for more than 20 years.

“Integrating them into the Submarine Service completes their inclusion into all seagoing branches.

“This is a proud day for the Royal Navy but equally a major personal achievement for these three officers.”

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