ROME, DEC. 28 -- A woman has been named commander of an active U.S. Navy vessel for the first time, officials said today.
Lt. Cmdr. Darlene M. Iskra was installed as commander of the salvage vessel USS Opportune on Thursday night after Cmdr. Edgar J. Jones was flown back to the United States for a medical emergency, said Lt. Scott Campbell, public information officer for U.S. naval support activity in Naples.
"We've never had a female commanding officer of a deployable ship or ship that can be sent overseas," Campbell said. "There's a little bit of naval history being made here."
Iskra, a special operations officer, will command an all-male crew of about 100, Campbell said. She is the senior female diving officer in the Navy, Campbell said.
She had been scheduled to succeed Jones on Jan. 24.
The USS Opportune is assigned to the 6th Fleet, based in Naples. It is a noncombatant vessel, said Campbell, and will not be involved in military action in the event of a war in the Persian Gulf. However, the ship could be sent to an area outside the war zone to provide support.
The next woman scheduled to receive command of a Navy ship is Cmdr. Deborah Gernes, who is scheduled in December 1991 to take charge of the USS Cimarron, an oiler, Campbell said.