West Cork native marks another first for women in naval service 

Patricia O'Sullivan, from Ballydehob, is the first woman in the navy to be promoted to the rank of chief petty officer
West Cork native marks another first for women in naval service 

Chief petty officer Patricia O'Sullivan with her new rank markings, alongside fellow petty officer, and brother, Donal O'Sullivan.

For the third time this year a woman has created 'a first' in naval service history.

Patricia O'Sullivan, from Ballydehob in West Cork, has just become the first woman in the navy to be promoted to the rank of chief petty officer (CPO).

She joined the service in 1998, at the age of 17, and completed her general service recruit training and professional training prior to deploying to sea as a mechanic.

In 2013, Patricia was selected to undergo an electrician trainee technician course and, following her apprenticeship, was appointed as an electrical artificer.

She is not the only member of the O'Sullivan family serving with the naval service — her younger brother, Donal, is a petty officer. 

Patricia has been deployed overseas twice on migrant-saving operations in the Mediterranean Sea onboard LÉ Samuel Beckett.

She and the crew saved thousands of lives, but she will never forget the heart-wrenching scenes when a number of migrants drowned after their inflatable dinghy capsized close to their ship.

“It was very distressing to witness, but you have to look at the positives because, overall, we saved so many," she said. 

"You have to ask yourself what would have happened if we weren't there? We were all very glad to contribute to the effort. I don't know one person who regretted it (serving on the mission)."

Patricia said she's delighted and honoured to become the first female CPO in the service.

“I think what got me there was hard work and a good attitude,” she said.

Earlier this year, sub-lieutenant Tahlia Britton became the first female member of the naval diving unit, successfully completing a course which is only surpassed for physical and mental endurance by that undertaken by those entering the elite army ranger wing.

Just a few weeks ago, another woman broke the "glass ceiling" in the echelons of the navy's hierarchy, when Roberta O'Brien was promoted to the rank of commander, the first woman to hold such a position.

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