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Navy picks first enlisted women to serve in Silent Service

After receiving "a strong response fleetwide," the Navy announced on Monday that it has picked the first cadre of enlisted women who will start serving in the submarine service in 2016.

"We received an overwhelming response from women currently serving across the fleet in a variety of concentration areas, from the surface fleet, to our aviation community, to Seabees, to Sailors in the Fleet Reserve," Rear Adm. Chas Richard, commander, Submarine Group 10 and Enlisted Women in Submarines Task Force Commander, wrote in a post on the Navy's official blog.

The Navy released the names of the 38 enlisted female sailors who will fill four chief petty officer (E7 pay grade) and 34 rating conversion positions in the pay grades of E6 and below across the blue and gold crews of the USS Michigan, a Ohio-class guided missile submarines homeported in Bangor, Wash.

The Navy began recruiting the women in January. The women went through a competitive selection process and were scored on "performance evaluations, warfare qualifications, commanding officer endorsements, sea service time, physical readiness testing, and similarity of current rating to desired submarine rating," according to a news release from the Navy.

They will now undergo the routine submarine medical screening process and then begin their training at Basic Enlisted Submarine School in Groton.

The next window for applications will open in July. The second group of enlisted female submariners will be assigned to the USS Florida, an Ohio-class guided-missile submarine homeported in Kings Bay, Ga.

The selections are the next step in the Navy's plan to integrate women into the submarine force. Women officers began reporting to submarines in late 2011.

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.

The Wyoming was one of the first submarines to which female officers were assigned in late 2011.

Twitter: @JuliaSBergman


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