Academy Women to Be Among First Female Submariners

Story Number: NNS100226-04Release Date: 2/26/2010 3:28:00 PM
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By Lisa Daniel, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Female Sailors will begin serving on submarines by the end of 2011, with new graduates in May leading the way, Navy leaders told a Senate committee Feb. 25.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Navy is in a good position to move forward with integrating women onto submarines.

"We think we learned a lot about integrating women in the services years ago, and those lessons are relevant today," Mabus said. Those lessons, he said, include having a "critical mass" of female candidates, having senior women to serve as mentors and having submarines that don't require modifications: the SSBN ballistic missile and SSGN guided-missile subs.

Finally, Mabus said, "We have the lesson learned to make sure any questions are answered, ... and we're very open and transparent on how we'll do this. We think this is a great idea that will enhance our warfighting capabilities."

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates notified Congress Feb. 19 of the intended change to Navy policy. Mabus had pushed for the change since taking office in May 2009. Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, endorsed the change, saying in a statement released in September 2009 that his experience commanding a mixed-gender surface-combatant ship makes him "very comfortable" integrating women into the submarine force. The Navy changed its policy to allow women to serve on combatant ships in 1993.

"We have a great plan, and we're ready to go for the first women to come aboard in late 2011," Roughead told the Senate committee Feb. 25. In a prepared statement to the committee, he said the change would enable the submarine force "to leverage the tremendous talent and potential of our female officers and enlisted personnel."

Besides the incoming officers from the Naval Academy, ROTC and OCS, the first women submariners will include female supply corps officers at the department head level, Roughead said. The change will be phased in over time to include enlisted female sailors on the SSBN and SSGNs, he said. Women will be added to the Navy's SSN fast-attack submarines after necessary modifications can be determined, he said.

"This initiative has my personal attention, and I will continue to keep you informed as we integrate these highly motivated and capable officers into our submarine force," Roughead told the committee.

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3/24/2010 11:44:00 AM
I was a mid USNA in 1993 when the combat exclusion law was lifted, and was proud to precom an Arleigh Burke destroyer, one of the first to have a mixed-gender crew. EVERY male I have worked with has treated me with respect. In reading all of the comments, what has been missing from the discussion is the lack of confidence in the professionalism of our forces. The type of female who would WANT to serve on a sub (and meet the requirements) is well aware that all eyes are watching her actions.

3/22/2010 5:19:00 PM
Imagine what happens when the sub skipper gives the order: TAKE HER DOWN!

3/19/2010 5:49:00 AM
This is a well and good strategy, right up until the first pregnancy. On the carrier, if a girl gets pregnant, she gets booted from reactor department (if a nuke) and goes off the ship at the next convenient opportunity for the ship. Not really a mission #### On a sub it is not as easy. Imagine the dose investigation for a nuke that gets pregnant. Imagine an SSGN on mission in waters that are not friendly finding out a crewmember is pregnant? Mission kill? you bet. Helo medevac.

3/18/2010 5:45:00 PM
As one with beaucoup time underway in "big and small" submarines, I believe the Navy is overdue in implementing this female submariner project in SSBN/SSGN. What concerns me are the national politicans and their insensitivity in attempting to introduce "a social fix" in subs of differing sizes too quickly, thereby jeopardizing a promising project. DBF/SSI,GA

3/18/2010 5:05:00 PM
As an academy grad and former Rickover nuc engineer with more than a few polaris patrols to remember, I think it is about time that the ladies get to share some of the fun. Wouldn't have any hesitation to recommend this life to my granddaughters ... all three of them. And of course would recommend it to my grandson as well. Attaboy to all those who finally pushed this through! BeachBoy

3/18/2010 1:22:00 PM
As a former Ohio-class J.O. and Mustang, my only question is the logistics. There are only 2 single-person staterooms in officer's country, CO and XO - and they share a head. The rest are 2 or 3-man staterooms, and all share one head with 2 showers and 2 stalls. I'd think they'd need a women's stateroom (i.e. 2 or 3 women) and a women's head - the bigger problem, unless you don't need a shower (not likely). Converting the aft enlisted head to women and filling up a 9-man w/ women sounds easier..?

3/8/2010 10:30:00 PM
There will be no difference if they only put female officer types on submarines. Their quarters are already sufficiently separate from the crew. There will be problems with integrating enlisted female sailors. If they can hoist or lower a crate of cantalopes through a hatch while loading stores, swim in oily bilges, swim out to retrieve a practice weapon or man overboard, do their tour of mess-cooking, and share the same heads, showers, and bunkrooms, they would be welcome aboard most subs.

3/7/2010 2:34:00 PM
Tomsail, really? The rainbow thing is a bit out there. I was in an Air Wing of P-3's and H-2's with small rainbows on them during two tours in Hawaii. My gut feeling is that most of the wing's members were likely hetero, and we didn't turn gay because of the small rainbows singifying our Hawaiian home base. Since well before the gay community chose the rainbow as a symbol, it has been, and remains, a ubiquitous representation of tropical life. Let the rainbow go, and get with the program.

3/7/2010 12:47:00 PM
I think giving equal opportunity is great as a woman myself, but I know there are storage issues as my husband is on a sub and generally there are more things that a woman must have. Rules are in place to prevent sexual activty but from things my husband shared about boot camp, I can tell you that the rules do not prevent things from happening. And although not my situation because I trust my husband, I know many women who had a hard enough time without the women aboard.

3/5/2010 7:27:00 AM
Congratulations and about time the ÚS got over their narrow mindedness. Women are very capable and great at multitasking and will do very well in their careers... providing ego's and 'joined at the hip' syndrome do not interfere. It's been over 10 years since Aussie women have served in Çonvectional Submarines (Diesel/Electric). Men please understand, women will enlighten and enhance the capabilities. Ensure women are given a mentor at sea to ensure their concerns are supported. Qualified SM.

3/3/2010 10:56:00 PM
Get over yourselves men. The same excuses were used to discriminate against anybody that wasn't an anglo-saxon male in the civilian and military workforce 60 years ago. Rosie the Riveter and the Tuskegee Airmen proved it then and thousands of us are proving it now. Females are serving in all branches of service, military and civilian alike. Why turn away a sector of the workforce because elements of the good old boys network can't control themselves?

3/3/2010 1:26:00 PM
I am so very proud of our Navy for doing the right thing and I am positive she will be better off for having done so. I only wish I were 30 years younger and among the first to serve!

3/1/2010 9:17:00 PM
We are making a big mistake trying to end "don't ask, don't tell," and now we are making another big mistake inviting women to serve on our submarines. Just Imagine: A U. S. Military Force with Rainbow-Colored Army Tanks and Pink Submarines with Rainbow-Colored torpedoes. May the Lord save us from the fools around us. May the Lord preserve us from this corruption

3/1/2010 11:08:00 AM
This is great news. Being a retired from the silent service I think this can work once the mods are made to the subs. The SSBM's ahouldn't be hard at all, but the older SSN's do have a space problem. Now that I am married to a general surgeon I know that women can do anything they put their mind to.

3/1/2010 10:58:00 AM
Folks, there is not a single area aboard any Naval vessel that can not be integrated...even those snipe spaces that I supervised and manned for 24-years! And if there is any group of female Sailors out there that can handle the "peer pressure" and constant scrutiny that is sure to happen, it would be our outstanding Academy graduates. Add to them some seasoned senior officers and diversified enlisted personnel and you’ll have some “kick-ass” crew members that will not only challenge the crews, but enhance their overall capabilities. Will there be isolated issues and concerns? You betcha! Will it disrupt life as the Submariners know it today? Absolutely! But this is nothing compared to the significant trials and tribulations that our 235-year old service has faced and endured through.

3/1/2010 10:00:00 AM
All of the pregnancy comments are stupid and knee-jerk. Screened for pregnancy- check. Don't have sex (the rules)- check. If you can't control your hormones or feel you are above regulation have some personal protection- check. Get pregnant, cause a scene- make the Navy Times for being a dumb ass- check. Duh. Other countries do not have a problem with this. Are Americans so neolithic and uncontrolled we will? Doubtful.

3/1/2010 9:15:00 AM
I am shocked at how women are still being discriminated against by the negative responses to this article. I enlisted in the Navy before we were allowed to be stationed on combatants. That changed and now I am a proud SWO! I've deployed four times. There's fraternization, but guess what? That happens in the civilian sector as well. Medical differences should not restrict women from serving onboard subs. Women have successfully served in combat. Get onboard or get out! Don't be the roadblock!

3/1/2010 8:24:00 AM
One thing that many people do not understand is that women on submarines has nothing to do with the capabilities of those women. It has everything to do with privacy and health issues. Having women on submarines is no more compromising than any other ship. However the potential for privacy issues is significantly increased. Examples: Fire drills in the womens bunking area or heads, adding corpsman personell to ensure both genders are covered and sharing the already tight laundry schedule.

3/1/2010 8:01:00 AM
Men, get over yourselves and embrace it.

3/1/2010 3:39:00 AM
I think that this is a great opportunity for women in the navy to shine and show people what they are capable of contributing to the mission. I personally hope that I can be apart of the experience one day!!

2/28/2010 9:57:00 PM
I have been serving with an integrated Navy since 1997. We're the Navy, we adjust. All of you "Old Salts" out there have to agree that it isn't the gender, the color, or the beliefs that make the merit of a Sailor. In the middle of a war, I refuse to turn down the aid of a sharp mind and a good soul. Why would I? They pledged their life just like I pledged mine.

2/28/2010 9:09:00 PM
Wow, reading the naysayer comments transports me back to 1993!! OK, question: what's the difference between a male and female Sailor? Answer: NOTHING (plumbing/uniforms aside). Ninety days isolated? Already do it on deployments. Physical limitations? Found a way to use all our Sailors in repair lockers. Jealous wives? Then don't GIVE them a reason to be jealous and don't tolerate it from your Sailors! The surface Navy figured it out, so get off the pedestal and embrace their Best Practices!

2/28/2010 8:30:00 PM
I think this is an amazing idea!!! I am a woman, and I am seriously thinking of joining the navy. If i do so i would very much want to be out there where it is all happening. Women can do the same thing as men can do if even better. We have just as much determination. If you really think we are not just as capable. Just watch us rise above boys!!!

2/28/2010 7:26:00 PM
Wow...Why mess up a good thing? We have the best sub force in the world. This is going to be a huge,rape, hazzing???

2/28/2010 5:18:00 PM
BLAH BLAH BLAH ITS THE END OF THE WORLD FOR OUR GREAT SUB FORCES... Heard it all before, now play me some blues harmonica and get over it. This won't be easy at first, no, but we'll find a way to adapt - we always do. Reading some of these comments, it's obvious - and fortunate - that some of you are retired.

2/28/2010 12:33:00 PM
Naysayers, like it or not, this IS going to happen, and there WILL be adjustment anguish as with every other major change. Stop whining about the way it used to done, and get aboard before the bus runs you over.

2/28/2010 10:24:00 AM
If I got disqualified submarines for donating a kidney due to the potential for needing an emergency extraction, how exactly would a pregnant sailor having complications be any different? The odds seem in favor of the baby having issues more than my other kidney giving out.

2/28/2010 8:05:00 AM
If they are going to integrate women on subs, then they will need to give the Corpsman more training in female problems. What's next a female Corpsman on an all male crew? That will be trouble waiting to happen. What's next installing a Nursery? Diaper changing stations in the heads? But then again I served on an aircraft carrier where the Senior Medical Officer was a Gynecologist/Flight Surgeon. Navy wisdom at it's finest.

2/27/2010 8:59:00 PM
wow! Where have you all been?... women have been protecting our nation aboard warships and fighter jets for decades now. Most recently women have been essential part of our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. What is a huge mistake is preventing fully qualified nuclear officers from serving the nation to the best of their abilities just because they are not the "right" gender.

2/27/2010 7:35:00 PM
In a time of tight budgets, let us spend good money to modify boats for a social engineering exercise. Well done! How many cruises may have to be cut short or be revealed via emergency extraction of a pregnant sailor? Again well done and well thought out!

2/27/2010 5:00:00 PM
The question we have to answer here is, "Will the country be more secure by enacting this policy? We have the best submarine force in the world. Will admitting women to subs keep us in this position? Or will the compromises be degrading? The key issues have been already stated in earlier posts. Women can volunteer to assume hazardous duties. But they have no right to volunteer potential lifelong damage to their fetuses. Think occupational radiation exposure, hull insulation fires, etc.

2/27/2010 4:01:00 PM
Just don't let 'em wear skirts---pllllleeeease! Escape drills, loading torpedoes--so many visions, so little time. Down ladder---whee! Skirts wrapped around the prop shaft? ouch. There's no particular rules about rings/jewelry but I saw a sailor get killed by a shorted wedding ring. At least ban the bling. Oh? You say the gals won't be allowed to do all the jobs? What about cross-qualification? Just name the first one "The Clintons." And make it all girl.

2/27/2010 12:46:00 PM
WOW! What a mistake! I retired as a CPO after 22 years as a submarine sailor and held positions up to "Chief of the Boat". You want to isolate men and wemon in a vessel that stays at sea for 90 days at a time. Have you forgotten the 06 that drove all night to get the women messing with her man? she was married with kids. Have you talked to the wives of these men both officer and enlisted? Will she allow herself to close the watertight door during a flooding on another sailor? It Required.

2/27/2010 12:09:00 PM
Horrible mistake. Once in place, very difficult, if not impossible to undo. It will not be undone until the test comes and perhaps not even then. Thanks to our massive superiority, that test is not imminent, but the day will come when most will regret not having resisted the thousand paper cuts of social engineering in our military.

2/27/2010 11:03:00 AM
SUBMARINE WARFARE isn't a great place to practice SOCIAL ENGINEERING. There are radiation hazards associated to fetus development at CONCEPTION. If you don't think conception will occur on 60+ day SSBN Patrols and on the sandy beaches of Diego Garcia while refitting and doing crew turn over on SSGN platforms, then Billy Clinton didn't have sex with that woman. Little boys and little girls get together and DO things. It has happened on EVERY platform so far and will happen here, too. Dive, dive.

2/27/2010 2:06:00 AM
This is a serious mistake.I am an old sub sailor,and I do not have any doubt about the talent,or abilities of our female comrades at arms,but some things aren't supposed to be determined by equality posturing and liberal experimentation,but by common sense and tradition. Don't put mixed gendered crews on our submarines!God made men and women different,and no one can change that,by changing an old tried and true tradition in our submarine force.Give them a boat/crew of their own if we need them.W

2/26/2010 10:32:00 PM
This is wonderful news! I'm very excited this opportunity has been extended to women in the Navy.

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Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) the Honorable Ray Mabus greets U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen before the start of a college football game.
091003-N-5549O-080 ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Oct. 3, 2009) Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) the Honorable Ray Mabus greets U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen before the start of a college football game against the U.S. Air Force Academy at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin S. O'Brien/Released)
October 6, 2009
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