Women to serve aboard U.S. Navy submarines

Secretary Gates informed Congress in a written submission sent Feb 19th his intention to allow women to serve aboard U.S. submarines.
Written by Doug Hanchard, Contributor on

For the first time since submarines came into service in the U.S. Navy (1776), Defense Secretary Gates informed Congress in a written submission sent Feb. 19 of his intention to allow women to serve aboard U.S. submarines. The press release was released yesterday by the Office of Secretary of Defense.

Gates signed a letter Feb. 19 informing Congress of the Navy's plan to lift the policy, which it intends to do through the phased-in assignment of women to submarines, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell confirmed today.

The secretary endorsed the plan, the brainchild of Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Morrell said.

No change can take effect until Congress has been in session for 30 days following the notification, Navy Lt. Justin Cole, a Navy spokesman said.
Mabus, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and other Navy leaders have looked closely at the issues involved with integrating women into the submarine force, including close working conditions and accommodations, he said.
The U.S. Navy has two types of submarines: Attack submarines, known as Los Angeles, Seawolf and Virginia class submarines (SSN) which are designed to hunt other submarines and  launch cruise missiles;and Ballistic missile submarines,  the Ohio class (SSBN) which can carry up to 24 nuclear ICBMs or up to 154 Tomahawk non-nuclear cruise missiles.

Crew sizes vary between 14 to 15 Officers, 18 Chief Petty Officers (senior enlisted men), and 105 to 125 other enlisted men. The Ohio class submarines have two crews for each submarine which rotate manning the submarine. It is not known when the first  women will earn their dolphins. Congress has 30 days to respond to the Secretary's new policy. It is not expected to meet any resistance. There are 71 submarines in the U.S. Navy, and five more are under construction. Opportunities for women to serve aboard submarines will be available despite the fact that it is expected that several submarines will also be decommissioned over the next several years. Women have served aboard surface combat ships since 1993.

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