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Navy recruiting enlisted women for submarine force

The Navy is recruiting enlisted women to begin serving aboard submarines in 2016.

On Wednesday, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert formally detailed the plan for enlisted female sailors, ranks E-1 (seaman recruit) to E-8 (senior chief petty officer), to request to serve in the Silent Service. Congress approved federal funding for the plan in December.

Chief petty officers and senior chief petty officers will be the first enlisted women assigned to mixed-gender crews.

This is the next step following the integration of female officers into the submarine force. Women officers began reporting to submarines in late 2011.

Initially, female sailors will be selected and trained to serve on board Ohio-class ballistic-missile and guided-missile submarines on which women officers are already serving. In 2016, the Navy will add enlisted women to the blue and the gold crews of the guided-missile submarine USS Michigan. Women will join 12 additional crews over a five-year period through 2021.

The second phase of the plan calls for enlisted female sailors aboard newly constructed Virginia-class attack submarines around 2020.

Ships with enlisted women on board will be modified to meet Navy guidelines “for habitability and privacy while maintaining equity for male and female sailors,” according to one of three naval messages released Wednesday.

Chief petty officers will be selected by a panel based on endorsements from their commanding officers, sea service experience, warfare qualification and relevant job experience. They will attend basic enlisted submarine school in Groton and then any required rate-specific training before reporting to their first submarine.

All enlisted women chosen to serve aboard submarines will attend basic enlisted submarine school and then “A,” or basic training, and “C,” or advanced training, schools, as needed.

New female recruits and sailors without an assigned rating who are chosen to serve will go through the same training pipeline as their male counterparts.

Navy officials have described the integration of female officers, who were first invited aboard ballistic missile submarines in 2010, as a smooth and successful process. But the service was dealt a blow when news broke in December that a dozen sailors were under investigation for secretly recording their female shipmates in the dressing area of the USS Wyoming, an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine based in Kings Bay, Ga. The Wyoming was one of the first submarines to which female officers were assigned in late 2011.

This month, female officers began to serve on fast-attack submarines. The first three female officers assigned to the USS Minnesota, homeported in Groton, are a supply corps officer, who handles supply and logistic services for the Navy and therefore is not exclusive to the submarine community, and two submariner officers. The three female officers who will be assigned to the USS Virginia, also homeported in Groton, are expected to report there this spring as scheduled.

Twitter: JuliaSBergman 


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