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The U.S. military observed another milestone in its progress toward ever greater inclusiveness when the first three women officers who have the training that could set them on the course to command a submarine were pinned with their "dolphins" in ceremonies held at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga. and the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash. last week.
As the Navy continues its introduction of women onto submarine crews, the three women to take the historic step were Lt. j.g. Marquette Leveque of the USS Wyoming, and Lt. j.g. Amber Cowan and Lt. j.g. Jennifer Noonan, both of the USS Maine. The three had participated in patrols aboard their respective submarines as part of their training.
Groton had the distinction of playing an important role in the addition of women to the submarine force, as all of the women now serving graduated from the Submarine Officer Basic Course at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton.
Currently all women submariners will serve aboard the largest submarines, the Ohio-class ships capable of firing ballistic missiles, because they are easier to outfit with separate accommodations. The Navy has assigned 24 women - 17 line officers and seven supply officers - to the Wyoming, Maine, Ohio and Georgia submarines. All the submarines are homeported in Georgia and Washington. Groton does not accommodate the ballistic-missile submarines.
With each step of becoming more inclusive the military has faced opposition, controversy and concern and each time fulfilled its mission. The result is more Americans having increased options to serve in the defense of their nation.
We are sure they appreciate that choice and we certainly appreciate their service.