ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- Eleven female midshipmen from the Naval Academy's Class of 2010 have been selected for submarine service upon graduation, following the Department of the Navy's announcement two weeks ago that female officers now have the option to serve on board subs.
"I heard about the opportunity to go on subs and thought wow, what a chance that would be to challenge myself and be able to do something different," said Midshipman 1st Class Rachel Lessard, of Newburyport, Mass.
All of the midshipmen had previously been assigned other warfare communities in preparation for graduation. Of the 11 selected, eight had already gone through the screening for service in the nuclear surface community. The other three had been selected for the conventional surface, Navy aviation and Marine Corps ground communities.
Many of the selected midshipmen first became interested in submarine warfare after spending 24 hours on board a submarine, something all midshipmen have the opportunity to experience as part of their summer training.
"I was really impressed by the enlisted crew. They all loved their jobs and wanted to teach you about them," said Midshipman 1st Class Laura Martindale, of Roselle, Ill. "It was a unique environment that we hadn't been exposed to before as women."
For Midshipman 1st Class Kayla Sax, of Richland, Wash., the Submarine force appealed to her because of the amount of responsibility assigned to junior officers.
"You jump in really quick and qualify to operate a nuclear reactor," said Sax. "And you're trying to qualify on all the watches at the same time that you're trying to lead your division."
Sax said the challenges inherent in the submarine community appealed to her for the same reason she was drawn to the Naval Academy. Midshipman 1st Class Jessica Wilcox agreed.
"It's a challenge, which is exciting, but I'm in it because of what it offers for your development as a leader and for you to help the Navy in the best way possible," said Wilcox, of Honesdale, Pa.
The midshipmen said they have received strong support, both from mentors in the submarine community and from their peers.
"I've gotten a lot of support from classmates through this entire process to help me get ready for my technical interview and talking to me about their experiences on their sub cruises during the summer," said Midshipman 1st Class Marquette Ried, of Fort Collins, Colo. "They're excited to have us going to [nuclear] power school with them and to have us on the boat with them."
Ultimately, these women are eager to serve and looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.
"I'd like to serve however the Navy can best use me," said Midshipman 1st Class Elizabeth Hudson, of Plymouth, Mass. "If this is a skill set I can offer and I was selected, then outstanding."
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