This is not only a huge personal achievement for these three outstanding officers, as they take up their new roles supporting the ultimate safeguard of our national security, but also an historic moment for the Royal Navy and our Armed Forces.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond

The final hurdle was a robust examination programme, culminating in an intensive board with the Commanding Officer – which they all passed with flying colours.

All three women will now embark on careers in the Submarine Service, working in support of our continuous at sea deterrent which is the ultimate guarantee of our nation’s security.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: “I am delighted to be able to congratulate our first ever female submariners and wish them all the best in their future careers.

"This is not only a huge personal achievement for these three outstanding officers, as they take up their new roles supporting the ultimate safeguard of our national security, but also an historic moment for the Royal Navy and our Armed Forces.

“Our Armed Forces offer an enormous range of opportunities and careers, no matter what your gender. This is another important step forward as we strive to make sure our Armed Forces better represent the society we serve.”

Lieutenant Maxine Stiles, one of the three newly qualified female submariners, said: “I am immensely proud to wear the Dolphins and say that I am now a part of the Submarine Service, with its great tradition and ethos.

"My first deployment at sea on a nuclear submarine is one I’ll never forget. It was a challenging but hugely rewarding experience.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time on board and would like to thank the Ship’s Company, with whom I had the privilege to serve alongside.

"It was a unique experience but one that I hope becomes commonplace for many future female submariners.”

We have revolutionised the role of women in the Royal Navy. Twenty years ago they began serving at sea in surface ships and in 2011, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond lifted the ban preventing women from serving onboard submarines.

Women can now serve in all of the Royal Navy’s seagoing branches, demonstrating our commitment to making sure all our personnel have the same opportunities, with exemptions only made where there is a clear operational need for them.

Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral David Steel said: “I am absolutely delighted to congratulate the first three women to qualify as submariners.

"Women have been serving in ships at sea with the Royal Navy for more than 20 years and integrating them into the Submarine Service completes their inclusion into all seagoing branches.

"This significant milestone demonstrates the Royal Navy’s determination to embrace every opportunity to employ the immense range of talents and skills of all our people.

"This is a proud day for the Royal Navy but equally a major personal achievement for these three officers, as it is for all those qualifying.”

Commanding Officer of HMS Vigilant, Commander Matt Dennis, oversaw the officers’ training onboard the submarine and praised them for their performance: “I was impressed with how seamlessly the three women integrated on board.

"They qualified without any difficulty and two of them even completed additional training whilst at sea.

"As I would expect, they were accepted as integral members of the ship’s company by the rest of the crew and have really paved the way for women on submarines to be business as usual from now on.”

The three officers will now all take up their new positions - Lieutenant Stiles will continue her Logistics Officer post onboard, Lieutenant Olsson is undertaking Deputy Weapons Engineering Officer training and Lieutenant Thackray will become an Education Officer.