PACIFIC OCEAN -- An officer on board the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) is the Navy's first female Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) Boatswain (Bos'n).
The Navy's first female ALRE Bos'n, Ens. Kimberlee D. Hazle, of Valley View, Texas, checked on board Nimitz in March 2013. Hazle joined the Navy when she was 18 years old after she graduated from high school. "I joined the Navy in 2001," said Hazle. "I thought it would give me good experiences and [help me] grow up."
She came into the Navy as an undesignated Airman and struck aviation boatswain's mate (equipment) (ABE) a year later.
After being an ABE for 12 years, Hazle put in her package for the limited duty officer (LDO) program and was commissioned as the Navy's first female ALRE Bos'n in November 2012. "It was always my goal to become an ALRE and to do better for the Air Department and the ABEs," said Hazle. "I always wanted to be on top of the chain [of command] and to be a Bos'n to improve processes, safety, qualifications and maintenance." After becoming a commissioned officer, Hazle made her way to Nimitz in early 2013. "I came to the Nimitz in February," said Hazle. "This is my third carrier. Previously, I was stationed on the Reagan and the Stennis. I will be on board Nimitz for about three more years." Hazle comes from a long line of veterans who served in various branches of the military and is the first female in her family to serve. "My whole family was military," said Hazle. "My dad, my uncle, both my grandfathers. My uncle was actually a Bos'n as well." According to Hazle, the best part of being a Bos'n is the launching and recovering of the aircraft from the flight deck and helping junior Sailors she works with learn how to do the job she loves. "[I enjoy] helping the junior Sailors qualify to launch and recover," said Hazel. "It's a lot of hard work, but I don't want to do anything else. The junior Sailors are the reason I want to do this because they run this division." Being a Bos'n on board an aircraft carrier can present a lot of challenges such as long hours, extreme weather conditions and being around equipment that can cause serious bodily harm or death if not used properly, but Hazle always looks on the bright side and keeps her attitude positive. "The equipment can be rather challenging, but that's how we get our work out in," said Hazle. The main part of the ship that Hazle is in charge of is the catapults and arresting gear located on the flight deck, two of the main things necessary to launch and recover aircraft from an aircraft carrier. "Without those two things, there would be no fixed wing flight [operations]," said Hazle. For Hazle, being the Navy's first female Bos'n is not something she feels is out of the ordinary and is something that comes naturally to her. "As far as being the first female Bos'n, I want to do well and have it be the norm and to not be the elephant in the room," said Hazle. "I feel very normal doing it and very supported by my division and my department."