A historic first took place recently as four enlisted female sailors reported for submarine school in Groton, Connecticut. This entrance into what was once an all-male duty assignment is just the latest hurdle females have cleared in terms of gender barriers throughout all of the services. Two females recently made it through the Army’s Ranger school, another first.
Andrew Jarrett, commander of the Naval Submarine School, said in an interview recently that he and his staff will go about the training as they always have done. He added that the main change will be in staffing as the school adds some senior enlisted female sailors. As far as the training goes, it will be “business as usual.”
In 2010, the Navy ended its long-held ban on women serving aboard submarines when it allowed female officers to be assigned to subs. These officers have been assigned to fast-attack and ballistic-missile submarines. Enlisted females had to wait until now for possible assignments within the “silent service.”
Submarines are not known for their large spaces and privacy levels. This means that the Navy will need to come up with new design changes that allow for mixed-gender crews. On many subs, enlisted sailors often sleep nine to a single bunk room; there may be a max of four showers and seven toilets to handle the needs of about 140 enlisted personnel.
Lt. Cmdr. Tommy Crosby, a spokesman for the submarine force, reported that the Navy sent out a survey to over 50,000 enlisted female sailors asking them what they thought of sub training. Of the 50,000, 12,700 sailors answered the survey, and, of those, 28.5 percent said that they would be interested in volunteering for submarine duty/service.
The first four female sailors will undergo eight weeks of Basic Enlisted Submarine School, followed by 18 weeks of special training in submarine electronics. The women are all in the Navy’s Submarine Electronics Communications Field training pipeline.
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