RALEIGH, N.C. (NNS) -- The first two Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) female midshipmen have been selected to serve aboard U.S. Navy submarines.
The Department of the Navy announced a policy change April 29 that allows women to serve on submarines.
North Carolina State University Midshipman 1st Class Megan Bittner, from Chesapeake, Va., and North Carolina State University Officer Candidate Karen Achtyl, from Rochester, N.Y., were interviewed May 3 by Adm. Kirkland Donald, the director of naval nuclear propulsion and the top Navy officer in the submarine force, in Washington, D.C.
After the extensive interview, Bittner and Achtyl were selected for submarine service.
"I had always been told that I'd never serve on board a submarine," said Achtyl, who joined the enlisted ranks in May 2004 and worked to the rank of second class petty officer as an electrician's mate. "I was told that this was just how it was, even though I had worked with submariners in the past they would always say you'll never do this. When we started hearing about the possibility of woman on submarines, that's when I said 'yes I can.' I then looked into the processes of making it happen."
Bittner, who has been around the Navy her entire life thanks to her father, who just retired as a Navy commander and surface nuclear officer and whose brother is a special operator lieutenant junior grade with SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) Team 4, said she was looking for a challenge in her Navy career.
"When I heard about the possibility of women on subs last October (2009), I knew this was the opportunity I was looking for in the Navy. I'm excited to be given this opportunity and hope to thrive in a very challenging environment," said Bittner.
Both Bittner and Achtyl are scheduled to be commissioned as ensigns May 14.
The two students will graduate from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., magna cum laude May 15. Bittner will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering with a concentration in green chemistry and engineering and a minor in naval science. Achtyl will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering and a minor in business management.
Following their commissioning and graduation May 15, Bittner and Achtyl will attend Nuclear Power School in Charleston, S.C., Prototype (Nuclear Power Training Unit) at one of several locations in the country and Submarine School in Groton, Conn., before being assigned to their first submarine. The whole training process is expected to take 15 to 18 months.
"I don't believe the Navy could have picked two finer females to pioneer the entrance of females in the submarine community," said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Timothy Nichols, executive officer of the North Carolina Piedmont Region NROTC consortium, which includes Duke University, the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University.
"These are two outstanding midshipmen and the perfect candidates to be officers and leaders in the submarine force. They are both ready and eager to start their Navy careers," said Nichols.
The NROTC program, overseen by Naval Service Training Command at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill., was established to develop midshipmen mentally, morally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy core values.
NROTC graduates become naval officers who possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the naval service and have a potential for future development in mind and character so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.
For more news from Naval Service Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/nstc/.