Female Sailors to be Assigned to Submarines with Female Officers

Virginia Class Attack Submarine SSN

The Navy said it will deploy enlisted female sailors in 2016 aboard submarines with female officers already assigned to them.

In July, the Navy announced that enlisted female sailors will begin deploying on submarines in 2016. The enlisted women will be placed on ships with female officers where those naval officers can function as role-models and mentors, Connor said.

"We will build upon the ships that have women officers to lead and bring in senior women at the chief petty officer level just like we did with the women supply officers," he explained.

There are currently more than 100 female Navy officers serving on submarines, Vice Adm. Mike Connor, commander Atlantic submarine force, said Thursday at the Naval Submarine League's annual symposium in Falls Church, Va.

"They are doing well," Connor said.

More female officers will be gradually added to the force in coming years as well, he added.

"We have seven ships and 14 crews integrated with women officers. We will pick up two ships next year in Groton, Connecticut -- Virginia-class -- and two the following year in Hawaii," Connor explained.

The first four submarines to accept women officers were two nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines, or SSBNs, the USS Wyoming and the USS Maine, and two guided-missile or conventionally armed ballistic missile submarines, or SSGNs, the USS Georgia and the USS Ohio.

Female officers were assigned to these boats after completing training, which consists of nuclear power school, prototype training and a submarine officer basic course.

Also, the anticipated retirement of existing Ohio-class submarines in coming years, SSBNs and SSGNs, will open up more opportunities for women to enter into submarine commands as those boats will be replaced by new Ohio-class and Virginia-class submarines, he added.

Connor explained that the Navy is now waiting on Congress to authorize the plan for the integration of enlisted women in 2016.

"We have gone through all of the procedures with Congress. They have to be in session for 30-days. We are on a path to a slow and deliberate success," he said.

The Navy first made the formal decision to allow women officers on submarines in February 2010. Overall, women make up roughly 15 percent of the Navy, service officials said.

The rationale for allowing more women on submarines is grounded in a Navy interest to widen the existing talent pool to include the contributions of many female sailors.

-- Kris Osborn can be reached at Kris.Osborn@military.com

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US Navy Topics Ships