Enlisted Women Train for Duty on Kings Bay Sub

Crewmembers of the guided-missile submarine USS Florida (SSGN 728) handle a mooring line from a tug boat to be brought alongside submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) in Diego Garcia. (US Navy/Zachary Kreitzer)
Crewmembers of the guided-missile submarine USS Florida (SSGN 728) handle a mooring line from a tug boat to be brought alongside submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) in Diego Garcia. (US Navy/Zachary Kreitzer)

ST. MARYS -- The U.S. Navy is currently training 38 women to be among the first enlisted women to serve aboard a submarine at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia.

After they complete Basic Enlisted Submarine School at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., the women will be assigned to the two crews that alternate patrols aboard the Ohio-class submarine USS Florida.

Another group of female sailors at a base in Bangor, Wash., has already completed training and they are preparing to be part of the crew of the ballistic missile submarine USS Michigan.

Lt. Lily Hinz, a public affairs officer for Submarine Group 10, said a female chief petty officer has already completed her training and is currently at Kings Bay.

"The chiefs will get there first to set the groundwork," she said.

Most of the enlisted women with ranks of petty officer 1st class and below will arrive at Kings Bay early next year, Hinz said.

Besides completing submarine school, the women will be required to take training specific to submarines if they plan to continue with the same military occupation. Some of the women may not have held jobs that can be used on a boat and will require additional training for other positions. Hinz said the enlisted women are eligible to perform any job on the boat, including machinist mate and missile technician.

"They would have to convert to something that would apply to a submarine," Hinz said.

The Florida is one of four Ohio-class submarines converted from a ballistic missile submarine to a platform capable of launching Tomahawk cruise missiles. The boat is currently undergoing renovations at Kings Bay to accommodate female enlisted sailors, including berthing and bathroom facilities.

Work aboard the vessel includes modifications for separate nine-person bunk rooms and a bathroom for women ranked E-6 and below, as well as quarters and bathrooms for female chief petty officers.

The space sacrificed on the boat for the new facilities is a little-used "study" area. Hinz said the room was chosen because it will have minimal impact on the crew.

Female officers began serving on board Ohio-class submarines in 2012 and are already serving in the USS Florida.

"This is a very exciting time for the submarine force and the Navy," said Rear Adm. Randy B. Crites, the Enlisted Women in Submarines Task Force Commander. "We are reaching milestones that allow us to be more capable than ever by growing and diversifying our force as these exceptional women make their way through the training pipeline." 

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