Academy Women to Be Among First Female Submariners

Story Number: NNS100226-04Release Date: 2/26/2010 3:28:00 PM
A  A  A   Email this story to a friend   Print this story
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.

For more news, visit

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
Navy Social Media
Sign up for email updates To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please click on the envelope icon in the page header above or click Subscribe to Navy News Service.