Tipperary native Roberta O'Brien has become the first woman in the history of the Naval Service to achieve the rank of Commander.

She joined the Permanent Defence Forces in 1995 and was part of the first ever intake of female personnel into the Irish Navy along with her classmate Orlaith Gallagher, who is now a Lieutenant Commander.

She was commissioned as an Officer in 1997.

Commander O'Brien has held a wide variety of roles and appointments at sea and ashore including that of a Senior Staff Officer in Naval Headquarters, Health & Safety Advisor and Cadet Class Officer.

Most recently she was the second in command of the Naval Service’s Logistics Unit. 

In 2008, Commander O'Brien become the first female captain of an Irish warship when she assumed command of the LÉ Aisling.

Since then, seven women have gone on to command ships in the Irish Navy and in 2019 three ships (out of nine) were commanded by women.

A mother of three young children, her husband, Peadar Ó Catháin, is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Irish Army currently posted to EU military staff headquarters in Brussels.

Commander O'Brien, who is from the Glen of Aherlow in Tipperary, has also served overseas as part of European Naval Force Mediterranean Operation Sophia, deployed onboard the Italian flagship.

There was another historic day for the Irish Navy last month when Donegal woman Sub-Lieutenant Tahlia Britton became its first female diver.

Established in the 1960s, the diving unite is an elite part of the Naval Service with up to 30 divers.