The first woman commander of a major Royal Navy battleship has been asked to leave her ship while an investigation is carried out into claims she had an affair with a shipmate.
Commander Sarah West, 42, had been in charge on board HMS Portland, a Type 23 frigate, since May 2012.
Her second-in-command is now in charge of running the vessel while the inquiry takes place, but Cdr West is still officially the Commanding Officer.
The Armed Forces’ Code of Social Conduct governs personal relationships within the military and the investigation will look at whether it was breached.
Any Armed Forces member found to have fallen short of its high standards could face a formal warning, reassignment and even termination of service.
A Royal Navy spokesman said: “We are aware of an allegation of a breach of the code of social conduct on board HMS Portland, which we are treating seriously.
“Anyone who is found to fall short of the Royal Navy’s high standards can expect to face appropriate action. It would be inappropriate to comment further.”
Cdr West became the first female commander of a frontline warship in the 500-year history of the service.
She told the Daily Mirror newspaper earlier this year that work commitments made it difficult to have a relationship.
She said: “I’m really proud to be the first woman but I’m not reinventing the wheel. Lots of women in the services have challenging roles.
“It’s just that I happen to be newsworthy at the moment. There are drawbacks though.
“Years at sea probably explains why I’m single. But every person in the military makes sacrifices.”
When Cdr West was made a Commanding Officer she described it as the greatest achievement of her career.
She said: “Taking command of HMS Portland is definitely the highlight of my 16 years in the Royal Navy so far.
“It is a challenge that I am fully trained for and ready to undertake.
“I am very proud to be taking command of a Type 23 frigate, which is an extremely flexible warship, and I’m looking forward to taking HMS Portland on operations with a professional and focused team.”
HMS Portland, which has a crew of 185, has been on a seven-month deployment around the coasts of Europe, Africa, and South and North America.
The ship’s most recently known position, according to a marine positioning website, was the port of San Juan, in Puerto Rico, on July 19.