Lieutenant Commander Carla Higgins, 30, joined the Royal Navy in 2005 and has previously served with Type 45 destroyers HMS Dragon and Diamond, as well as Her Majesty’s Ships Campbeltown, Kent and Mersey.

Last July, she moved to the Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron, the small, but elite, group of vessels charged with protecting high-value shipping on the Clyde. For 12-months she commanded HMS Raider, a P2000 Patrol Boat, carrying out vital force protection duties and on Thursday, July 2,took over the top spot from Lieutenant Commander Edward Munns, making her the first woman to become Squadron Commander since it came into being in 2010.

Lieutenant Commander Higgins said: “I am delighted to take on this role.

“I have no doubt that the job will be a challenging one, but the vessels and ship’s companies are first class and I know that they will continue to be invaluable assets to HM Naval Base Clyde.

“Initially I never thought it would even be possible to command a Squadron.

“Joining the Royal Navy was a little daunting to begin with but really exciting as it was my first time away from home for any length of time. “I joined straight up from being a fitness instructor and lifeguard!

Lieutenant Commander Higgins added: “When I realised that the ultimate job would be to command my own warship, I started to aim towards it and realised I could achieve it if I really wanted to. “There have been challenges along the way but the navy has made me who I am now.” Throughout her career, Lieutenant Commander Higgins has operated in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, North Sea and Arctic Circle. She has also been lucky enough to have visited around 15 different countries, from Iceland and Norway to South Africa and the USA, where she conducted training alongside the US Coast Guard.

She said: “Both my Grandfathers were in the Royal Navy and I imagine it was this that originally sparked my interest.

“I have loved finding out more about their careers and have their medals and papers from their time served and I am very proud of them.

“I was also attracted to the navy by the travel prospects and the ability to learn something hands-on that involved being physically active through training.” Lieutenant Commander Higgin’s husband Alex is also a serving Lieutenant Commander with the Royal Navy, currently with the navy’s Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) organisation.

The couple, who have been together for six-years, have both previously served in the Gulf, but on different ships. Alex is a Royal Navy weapon engineer and Lieutenant Commander Higgins is a Warfare Officer – two branches of the naval service that have a long tradition of competitiveness. Lieutenant Commander Higgins said: “We regularly laugh and joke about the different ways we work, but ultimately we support each other whether at home or away.

“Alex knows that I look forward to someday becoming the Commanding Officer of a larger warship and is really supportive.” The Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron comprises of two Royal Navy P2000 Patrol Boats, HMS Raider and HMS Tracker, which patrol the waters of the Clyde to protect valuable shipping from threats. The Squadron is headquartered at HM Naval Base Clyde.