Extensive collections of archived historical records of the
Navy Office of Women's Policy are maintained at:
Naval Historical Center
Operational Archives Branch
805 Kidder Breese Street SE
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5060
1776 - LADY WASHINGTON, a small wooden river gunboat, became the first American armed ship named for a woman. Named in honor of Martha Washington, the ship was built 1776 by New York State to defend the Hudson River.
1811 - Female nurses first included among personnel at Navy hospitals.
1862 - Four sisters of the Holy Cross and five black women served aboard the Navy's first hospital ship, RED ROVER, to provide medical care.
1908 - The US Navy Nurse Corps was established on May 13. The first 20 nurses (in reality, the first "Women in the Navy") reported to Washington, DC in October. By the end of WWI, the numbers had increased to 1,386. The women worked transport duty overseas; in England, Ireland, Scotland.
1913 - Navy nurses served aboard the transports USS MAYFLOWER and USS DOLPHIN.
1916 - During WWI, the Naval Reserve Act of 1916 allowed for enlistment of qualified "persons" for service. Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels asked, "Is there any law that says a Yeoman must be a man?"
1917 - On 19 March 1917, the Navy authorized the enlistment of women. Designated as "Yeoman(F)" they unofficially became known as "Yeomanettes.”
On 21 March 1917, YNC Loretta Perfectus Walsh became the first female Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy.
1918 - When the WWI armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, there were 11,275 Yeomanettes in the Naval service, with some 300 female Marines in the Marine Corps. The women were "no longer needed" and were asked to resign. The final pass in review down Pennsylvania Avenue was in July.
1920 - Nurses served aboard the first ship built as a floating hospital, USS RELIEF (AH 1).
1938 - The Naval Reserve Act allowed for the enlistment of qualified women as nurses.
1942 - Congress established the Navy's Women's Reserve Program as an integral part of the Navy (Public Law 689. 77th Congress) on 30 July 1942. Naval Reserve Act of 1938, which included the Women's Reserve (unofficially known as the "WAVES", Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), was amended and signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Wellesley College President, Mildred McAfee, was selected to lead the new Women's Reserve and was sworn in as a Lieutenant Commander on August 3, 1942.
Authorization was passed for women to hold the rank of Captain and McAfee was promoted to that rank. (November 8, 1943; Public Law 183.)
Training was conducted at Smith College for officers and Hunter College for enlisted. Over 86,000 women served in the WAVES.
Navy nurses had relative rank until Superintendent Sue S. Dauser, the Director of the Navy Nurse Corps, became the first female Captain in the Navy and in the Navy Nurse Corps.
WWII - 81 nurses were taken prisoner by the Japanese on Guam and in the Republic of the Philippines.
Several thousand women served on active duty, however most were demobilized within 18 months of V-J day.
1944 - Harriet Ida Pickens and Frances Elizabeth Wills became the first African American female officers in the Navy.
1945 - USS HIGBEE (DD 806), a GEARING-class destroyer, was the first warship named for a woman to take part in combat operation. Lenah S. Higbee, the ship's namesake, was the Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps from 1911-1922.
1947 - The Army-Navy Nurses Act (Public Law 36-80C) established the Nurse Corps as a permanent Staff Corps of the Navy and the Army. It also authorized the permanent commissioned rank for nurses.
1948 - On June 12, President Harry Truman signed Public Law 625, the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, making it possible for women to enter the U.S. Navy in regular or reserve status.
The Act disestablished the Women’s Reserve, the WAVES and the Director thereof.
Edna Young was the first African American woman to enlist in the regular Navy and the first African American woman to achieve the rank of Chief.
The position Assistant Chief of Naval Personnel for Women (ACNP(W)) was created from the original WAVES leadership position...this was the first notion of the Office of Women's Policy. The woman officer who held the position was an 0-6 for as long as she filled the billet. No flag rank was allowed per Title 10 USC 6015.
1950 - Women in the Naval Reserve were recalled along with their male counterparts for duty during the Korean War.
1951 - President Truman authorized the Services to involuntarily discharge women due to pregnancy or adoption of minor children. Rule also permitted a voluntary discharge to uniformed women for marriage. Rule did not authorize uniformed women any entitlements due to family ("dependents") status, such as non-military spouses.
1952 - Navy women were accepted for commission in the Medical Service Corps.
1953 - Women in the Hospital Corps began serving on board hospital ships and transports carrying dependents.
1959 - On December 16, 1959, Anna Der-Vartanian was promoted to the rank of Master Chief Yeoman, making her the first female Master Chief in the Navy, as well as the first female E-9 in the entire Armed Services.
1967 - Public Law 90-130 amended 10 USC, eliminating the 2% ceiling on enlisted women.
Vietnam War - Nine non-nurse Navy women served in country, however no enlisted Navy women were authorized.
CDR Elizabeth Barrett was the highest-ranking woman naval line officer to serve in the Vietnam War and the first woman to hold command in a combat zone.
LT Elizabeth G. Wylie became the first women to serve in the Vietnam War on the staff of Commander, Naval Forces, Saigon.
Nurses served aboard the hospital ship USS SANCTUARY.
1972 - The Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress:
Z-GRAM 116 was released:
granted equal rights and opportunities to Navy women
no separate management of men and women
command opportunity allowed
authorized entry of enlisted women into all ratings
suspended restrictions regarding women succeeding to command ashore
completed the opening of all staff corps to women
opened the restricted line to women
integrated male/female detailing
opened ROTC to women
CAPT Arlene Duerk, NC, Director of the Navy Nurse Corps since 1968, was spot promoted to Flag rank, the first female naval officer to be appointed to flag rank.
The pilot program for assignment of officers and enlisted women to ships was initiated onboard USS SANCTUARY (AH 17).
Concurrent with an All Volunteer Force establishment, DOD authorized provisions to permit Services to retain uniformed women parents on a case-by-case basis.
CAPT Robin Quigley, Assistant Chief of Naval Personnel for Women (more commonly known as the WAVES director)'s 23 FEB 1972 memo officially ended the WAVES program and suggested that they be referred to as women in the Navy.
In 1973, LTJG Dianna Pohlman became the first female Chaplain in the Navy and the first female Chaplain in the Department of Defense.
1973 - Secretary of the Navy announced authorization of aviation training for women.
First female flight surgeon was designated.
LTJG Judith Neuffer was the first woman selected for flight training.
Women Officer School (WOS), Newport, RI, was disestablished, and Officer Candidate School (OCS) training integrated to support men and women.
Pregnancy as a reason for mandatory separation was abolished. Women could now request to remain on active duty if pregnant.
The Supreme Court rules unconstitutional inequities in benefits for the dependents of military women. Until then, military women with dependents were not authorized housing, nor were their dependents eligible for the benefits and privileges afforded the dependents of male military members, such as medical, commissary and post exchange, etc.
1974 - The first woman was commissioned through NROTC.
The Navy became the first service to graduate a woman pilot, LT Barbara Allen Rainey.
1975 - Congress authorized admission of women to the military academies.
Women were assigned to service craft (e.g., tug boats).
Fifteen sea intensive ratings closed to women.
Navy begins screening URL women for CDR, CO, and LCDR XO billets ashore.
1976 - RADM Fran McKee was the first female unrestricted line officer appointed to flag rank.
Women were admitted to the US Naval Academy.
Women began attending Aviation Officer Candidate School.
2nd Circuit Court decision indicating involuntary pregnancy discharges violated 5th Amendment.
1977 - Servicewomen authorized to wear maternity uniforms for the first time.
1978 - Congress approved change to Title 10 USC Section 6015 to permit Navy to assign women to fill sea duty billets on support and noncombatant ships.
Surface Warfare and Special Operations communities opened to women.
SKCM Margaret I. Gramlich became the first woman assigned to a Command Master Chief ashore billet.
1979 - Naval Flight Officer (NFO) program opened to women.
LT Lynn Spruill became the first woman Naval aviator to obtain carrier qualification.
The first woman obtained Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) qualification.
1980 - The US Naval Academy graduated its first female officers.
The first woman was selected for the Limited Duty Officer (LDO) program.
CAPT Roberta Hazard became the first woman to command a Naval Training Command.
1981 - YN2 Angela Purdy was selected as the first female Sailor of the Year at sea, while serving onboard the USS EMORY S. LAND (AS 39).
1982 - Women were permanently assigned to NSF Diego Garcia.
LT Colleen Nevius became first woman selected for Test Pilot School.
RADM Pauline Hartington was the second woman line officer to be appointed Rear Admiral.
First Navy instruction issued on sexual harassment, including definition, enforcement, and training required of service members.
1983 - LT Susan Cowar became the first woman SWO screened for XO afloat.
Commodore Grace Hopper was the first woman spot promoted to Flag rank in the Restricted Line.
LTJG Jannine Weiss was the Navy’s first LDO pilot.
1984 - RADM Roberta L. Hazard was selected for Flag rank.
All Operational Air Reconnaissance (VP) squadrons open to women.
1985 - CDR Veronica Froman, first woman assigned as XO of a Naval Station.
1986 - The First Recruiting District has women as both CO and XO.
LT Susan Cowar, SPECOPS officer, became the first woman SWO assigned as XO afloat. (SPECOPS officers also had to complete SWO qualifications.)
1987 - The first woman was assigned CO of an NROTC Unit.
CDR Rosemary Mariner became the first woman screened for command of an aviation unit.
1988 - CDR Debra Gernes was first woman selected for command at sea.
LCDR Kathryn Sullivan, USNR, first woman selected to be a Navy astronaut.
Twenty-four Combat Logistics Force (CLF) ships open to women.
Roberta Hazard was the first women selected for promotion to RADM (upper half), making her the first woman to be board selected to that grade.
Petty Officer First Class Beth Lambert became the first female selected as Shore Sailor of the Year. She was then meritoriously advanced to Chief Petty Officer.
1989 - AVCM Janice Ayers was the first woman assigned as CMC at sea, serving onboard the USS SHENANDOAH (AD 44).
The first woman EA was assigned to CNO.
1990 - CAPT Marsha Evans became the first woman to assume command of a Naval Station.
CDR Rosemary Mariner became the first woman to assume command of an aviation squadron.
LCDR Darlene Iskra, SPECOPS officer, became the first woman to assume command of a ship.
CMDCM Carol Cooper became the first female Command Master Chief of a Naval Security Group.
The destroyer tender, USS Acadia, deployed in support of Desert Shield and Desert Storm with approximately 360 women onboard.
1991 - 2,600 Navy women participated in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Navy women served on hospital ships, supply ships, fleet oilers, ammunition ships, repair ships, and tenders. Female pilots flew helicopters and reconnaissance aircraft.
CDR Debra Gernes, the second woman to assume command at sea.
The Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces was created. DOD delayed implementation of a combat exclusion law change pending results of the Presidential commission.
NCCM Ginger Simpson became the first woman director of the Senior Enlisted Academy.
MIDN Julianne Gallina named the first woman brigade commander, US Naval Academy.
CDR Deborah Gernes assumed command of a ship.
1992 - VCNO establishs guidelines for the proper protrayal of women in training and promotional media, to limit stereotyping and show the valuable contributions women make to the Navy.
LCDR Barbara Schooley, first woman to assume command of a Reserve ship.
CDR Judy Chesser Coffman was the first female helicopter pilot to fly in Antarctica, in support of the National Science Foundation.
BUCM Carol Keehner becomes the first female seabee Master Chief.
CDR Lin Hutton becomes the first female commanding officer of a Fleet Support Squadron, VRC 40.
First mixed gender recruit companies graduate from Naval Training Command Orlando.
1993 - The Combat Exclusion Law was modified by the FY-94 Defense Authorization Bill.
Navy commences berthing and habitability modifications and begins implementing assignment plans for units embarking women.
On February 4 Navy notified Congress that all aviation squadrons, the Naval Construction Force "Seabees”, and all classes of ships with the exception of Submarines, Mine Counter Measure (MCM), Mine Coastal Hunters (MHC), and Coastal Patrol Boats (PC) were open to women.
Conducted first Feasibility Study on women entering 1120 community and submarine ratings.
The Secretary of Defense opened combat aviation to women aviators in April. A transition board approved 17 female aviators for transition to combat aircraft. The first two women reported to a tactical squadron. Initial female aviators arrive at CVW 11 squadrons.
Navy opened enlisted aircrew positions in shore-based combat squadrons, 2nd, 3rd, and 7th Fleet Afloat Staffs, and AORs, AOEs, LCCs, and AGFs. The following ratings became open to women: AW, EW, FC, GS, GSE, and GSM. Opening ratings and unit redesignation increased female sea duty opportunities by 25%.
CAPT Patricia Tracey and CAPT Katharine Laughton were selected by the same selection board for Admiral.
CDR Jane Odea, CDR Lin Hutton, CDR Rosemary Mariner, and Naval Reserve CDR Joellen Oslund were the first women aviators selected for promotion to Captain.
LCDR Kathryn Hire, USNR, NFO, VP-62, became the first woman aviator to serve with a combat squadron.
LT Shannon Workman, pilot, and LT Terry Bradford, NFO, were the first two women to report to a tactical squadron, Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 130.
LT Shannon Workman became the first woman pilot to qualify for night landing on a carrier.
LCDR Janet Marnane was the first woman to report to a Carrier Air Group (CAG) staff.
RADM Louise Wilmot, the first woman to assume command of a Naval Base, at Philadelphia.
RADM Marsha Evans became the first woman to be Commander, Navy Recruiting Command.
Two women, LTJG Russell and LTJG Schweinfirth, completed a deployment aboard a combatant when they performed 179 days TAD aboard USS Fox (CG 33).
1994 - The Naval Academy revised the service selection policy and for the first time women midshipmen were required to select warfare specialties under the same guidance as men. On service selection day, 63 women midshipmen chose Surface Warfare for their future career.
USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69) became the Navy's first integrated combatant and deployed to the Persian Gulf with a mixed gender crew. Sixty-three women received permanent assignment orders to the ship; RM1 Terry Pelletier was the first to receive her orders.
Mary R. Henson, the first woman nuclear power candidate.
LT Shannon Workman, EA-6B Prowler pilot, was the first woman combat pilot to successfully pass fleet carrier qualifications.
GMSN Marie A. Chavez, onboard USS MOUNT WHITNEY (AE 34), the first woman frocked to Gunner's Mate (Guns), Third Class.
USS VELLA GULF (CG 72) became the first combatant to embark a mixed-gender Light Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) helo detachment.
LT Kara Hultgreen, the first Navy woman fighter pilot to be killed when her F-14 crashed into the sea during flight operations off the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72).
The first two Navy women F/A-18 pilots flew combat missions from the USS EISENHOWER as they enforced the no-fly zone over southern Iraq.
CAPT Susan Brooker, USNR, became the first woman to assume command of a Naval Reserve Readiness Command.
AZCS Hedy Rogers-Jones became the first senior enlisted female assigned to VFA 22.
Petty Officer Margaret Cooper, the first woman underwater "Seabee," graduated with honors from Underwater Seabee Navy Dive School.
STGCM Susan Sanson received orders as the CMC for VS-22, making her the first female CMC of an aviation squadron. She deployed aboard the USS EISENHOWER (CVN 69), one of the first mixed gender crews.
1995 - Completion of the first large deployment of women on a combatant; USS EISENHOWER (CVN 69), 400 women assigned.
USS LINCOLN deployed to the Western Pacific with a mixed gender crew.
IS1 Robin Sou became the first female Intelligence Specialist placed for independent duty onboard a surface combatant, USS BRISCOE.
First women graduate the “Seaman to Admiral” program, (ENS Elisabeth M. Brown, ENS Donna I. Coccodrilli, ENS Nancy E. Schmidt) assigned to Surface Warfare Officer School, Newport, RI.
LCDR Mary Townsend-Manning, the first woman to complete Submarine Engineering Duty Officer qualifications becoming eligible to wear "dolphins."
LTJG Kirsten Culler, the first woman to complete training in the T-45 Goshawk, the Navy's newest training jet, after landing aboard USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70).
CAPT Lin V. Hutton became the first woman to assume command of a Naval Air Station, NAS Key West.
USS BENFOLD (DDG 65) was delivered as the first US Navy ship to be built, keel up, with habitability modifications necessary for full gender integration.
CDR Judy Chesser Coffman was the first female flight deck officer onboard the USS ESSEX (LHD 2), as well as the first to qualify as AV-8B Harrier LSO (in Yuma, AZ).
1996 - USS HOPPER (DDG 70) commissioned; named for RADM Grace Murray Hopper, a leading pioneer in the field of computer technology. USS HOPPER is the first warship since World War II, and the second in the Navy's history, to be named for a woman from the Navy's ranks.
USS LABOON (DDG 58), the Aegis-class destroyer fired eight TOMAHAWK cruise missiles at Iraq, as part of the joint service strike against Saddam Hussein. LTJG Erica Niedermeier, Ordnance Officer, was one of two officers who supervised the strike team; and is one of 22 women assigned to the ship's crew of 340. The missile strikes were the first time female Sailors have taken part in combat operations since the Navy opened warship assignments to women in 1994.
CAPT Roseanne Milroy, NC, USNR, became the first Nurse Corps officer to command a fleet hospital.
CAPT Bonnie B. Potter, MC, USN became the first female physician in the Navy, Army, or Air Force to be selected for flag rank.
LCDR Anne M. Krekelberg, CHC, became the first female Navy chaplain to join a warship, USS BATAAN (LHD 5).
RADM Patricia Tracey is the first woman in the Navy to be promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral.
1997 - RADM Karen A. Harmeyer, NC, USNR, selected for promotion to the permanent grade of Rear Admiral.
RADM Bonnie Potter became the first woman to assume command of National Naval Medical Command Bethesda (NNMC).
1998 - RDML Lillian Elaine Fishburne became the first African-American female to hold the rank of Rear Admiral in the US Navy.
Five women SWOs selected to command combatant ships:
10 Jun- CDR Maureen Farren became first woman to command a surface combatant, USS MT. VERNON (LSD 39)
18 Dec- CDR Kathleen McGrath assumed command of USS JARRETT (FFG 33)
CAPT Deborah Loewer was first woman selected for a major afloat command. Assumed command of USS CAMDEN (AOE 2) in December.
17 Dec- LT Kendra Williams, F/A-18 pilot, credited as first female pilot to launch missiles in combat. She was flying in support of OPERATION DESERT FOX.
1999- On 12 March, CDR Michelle Howard assumed command of USS RUSHMORE (LSD 47). She was the first African American woman to assume command of a surface combatant.
MHC and MCM-class ships were opened to female officers and enlisted. COROMORANT and KINGFISHER were the first to receive enlisted women.
CMDCM Hedy Roger-Jones became the first female CMC assigned to a Strike Fighter Squadron, NAS Lemoore.
2000 - CDR Grace Mehl, CO of GUNSTON HALL, received a Bronze Star for actions during OPERATION ALLIED FORCE.
Women at Sea (WAS) Distribution and Assignment Working Group established.
2001 - CAPT Norma Hackney became first woman to have a major combatant command afloat, USS SAIPAN (LHA 2).
RDML Deborah Loewer, SWO, became the first warfare qualified woman promoted to flag rank.
CMDCM Evelyn Banks became the first female CMDCM of an Airwing, CVW-14.
CMDCM Susan Sanson became the CNOCM of Naval District Washington, making her the first female CMDCM for a region at shore.
2002 - CAPT Deborah Loewer became first female SWO (1110) to be selected for flag officer.
MIDN 1/C Emelia Spencer became first woman from U.S. Naval Academy to be selected as a Rhodes Scholar.
CMDCM Jacqueline DiRosa became the first female FORCM of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED).
2003 - Navy opens Sea Operational Detachments (SEAOPDETS) to women.
CMDCM Beth Lambert became the first female CMDCM of a Aircraft Carrier, USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71).
CMDCM Evelyn Banks became the first female CNOCM of Navy Recruiting.
2004 - The Commanding Officer billet aboard Patrol Coastal (PC) ships was opened to female officers.
2005 - LT Marisa McClure reported as first female CO of a PC.
RDML Wendi Carpenter became the second woman warfare qualified flag officer and the first woman aviator of that rank.
2006 - CAPT Cindy Talbert became the first female LDO to obtain the rank of Captain.
HTCS(SW) Tanya DelPriore became the first female selected as a Command Senior Chief.
CMDCM April Beldo became the first female CMDCM of Navy Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes.
FLTCM Jacqueline DiRosa became the first female FLTCM of U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
MC1 Jackey Bratt became the first female Combat Photographer to be awarded the Bronze Star.
2007 - HTCS(SW) Tanya DelPriore became the first female to be awarded the Expeditionary Warfare Pin.
CMDCM Evelyn Banks became the first female CMDCM of the U.S. Naval Academy.
NCCS(SW/AW) Cynthia Patterson became the first female Command Senior Chief of a Littoral Combat Ship, USS INDEPENDENCE (LCS 2 BLUE).
CMDCM Laura Martinez became the first Africian American female FORCM of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED).
CWO4 Lana Hicks was the first African American woman selected to the ranks of CWO5.
2009 - CMDCM(AW/SW) JoAnn Ortloff became the first female Operational (numbered) Fleet Command Master Chief, when assigned to COMTHIRDFLT.
2010 - RDML Nora Tyson was the first woman in the Navy to take command of a Carrier Strike Group.
In February, the Secretary of Defense signed a letter notifying Congress that the Submarine Forces were being opened to women.
In March, DoD announced that RADM Carol M. Pottenger was nominated for appointment to the rank of VADM and an assignment as Deputy Chief of Staff for Capability Development, Supreme Allied Command Transformation, in Norfolk, VA. She will be the first female SWO three star Admiral.
In June, EN1(SW) Isa Grace became the first enlisted women to qualify as Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) aboard the USS MESA VERDE (LPD 19).
RDML Margaret Kibben became the first woman promoted to Rear Admiral in the Chaplain Corps and the first female Chaplain of the Marine Corps.
2011 - CMDCM Roxanne Rhoades became the first woman to serve as the CMC onboard the USS CONSTITUTION "Old Ironsides."
The first female naval officers reported onboard submarines.
CMDCM Suzanne Whitman, USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72), and CMDCM April Beldo, USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70), are the third and fourth females, respectively, to serve as CMCs aboard an aircraft carrier. VINSON's arrival in the 5th Fleet area of operations (AOR) marked the first time two female carrier CMCs have been deployed to the AOR at the same time, supporting maritime security operations and theater cooperation efforts.
2012 - LTJG Marquette Leveque, assigned to the gold crew of USS WYOMING (SSBN 742), and LTJGs Amber Cowan and Jennifer Noonan of USS MAINE (SSBN 741) blue crew, became the first female unrestricted line officers to qualify in submarines and receive their "dolphins."
CMDCM Joann Ortloff became the first woman to serve as the FLTCM of Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa. She is only the second woman to serve as a FLTCM.
CMDCM Nancy Hollingsworth became the FORCM for Commander, Navy Installations Command Headquarters, making her the first woman to hold this position.
Vice Admiral Robin Braun became the first female Chief of the Navy Reserve.
2013 - On January 24, the Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff announced immediate rescission of the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule.
CAPT Sara A. Joyner became the commander of Carrier Air Wing Three, making her the first woman in the Navy to hold his position.
In January, Nanette DeRenzi was promoted to Vice Admiral, making her the highest ranking female in the Judge Advocate General Corps.
In March, FORCM April Beldo assumed the duties as the Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education (MPT&E) FLTCM, making her the first African American female FLTCM in the Navy and only third woman to hold this position.
POC: OSC Jessica Myers (firstname.lastname@example.org / 703-604-5482)
Crossed Currents, 3rd Ed., Revised and Updated
Ebbert, Jean & Hall, Mary-Beth
Submit additional historic events for consideration to the Navy Office of Women's Policy.
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