Enlisted Women in Submarines: Frequently Asked Questions

What ratings are available to convert into?
All non-nuclear submarine ratings are available for conversion (STS, FT, MMW, MT, ITS, ET-NAV/ET-COM, LS, YN, CS, MMA). Applicants must meet the criteria for the ratings to which they are requesting conversion. Some ratings will offer direct conversion without requiring additional rating training. (i.e., LS, YN, CS) All Submarine Sailors must attend Basic Enlisted Submarine School (BESS).  Female applicants CAN NOT apply for conversion via C-Way. PACT/Undesignated Sailors of any paygrade are eligible for selection into any rating.
Does it benefit me to submit my package early in the selection process?
No. The selection process will not commence until after the application deadline.
Will I be notified if I am not going to receive my first choice identified in my package?
No. When you list your three options you should expect to be selected in any of those ratings. DO NOT request a rate that you are not willing to convert into. However – your preferences are part of the process and 82% of Sailors selected were placed in their first choice.
I am married to another service member. Will we be able to transfer together if I am selected?
Marriage Status is not considered in the selection process, however as billets become available in Kings Bay GA and Bangor WA, it may be considered in assignments. Navy policies for Mil-Mil families will be considered in writing your orders.  Note also that the initial training pipeline for all Sailors will begin in Groton, CT and will vary in length based on the rating selected. Final assignments will be to either Kings Bay, GA or Bangor WA.  Both bases are in proximity to additional Naval bases and facilities.
I just reported to shore command. Will I be required to return to sea if selected?
Yes.  As part of the submarine volunteer statement you will be required to obligate for a minimum of 36 months of sea time following your training pipeline. Most conversions should expect to have their first submarine tour be based on the sea/shore flow of the rating into which they are converting.
Where are the Sailors selected during this application cycle going to be stationed?
Following training in Groton, CT, the initial assignments will be to an SSGN or SSBN stations in either Kings Bay, GA or Bangor, WA.  After 2020, additional homeports will become available as Virginia Class SSNs are modified to support an integrated crew. The current cycle is for integration of FLORIDA in Kings Bay.
What if my ASVAB is not high enough to meet the criteria of submarine ratings?
ASVAB waivers can be considered. Experience and past training will be taken into account as potential mitigation when assessing a waiver request. Due to the competitive nature of the program, packages requiring waivers will have a smaller chance of being selected. It is recommended that you retake the ASVAB and submit updated scores with your package.
How are PFA failures being treated?
PFA failures are being treated on a case by case basis. Past failures within the last three years are typically disqualifying, however waivers will be considered based on each individual’s unique skill set and the needs of the submarine force. Even if you have a PFA failure, we still encourage you to apply.
I am over the age requirement, will I require an age waiver?
An age waiver is not required for submission with your application. If your application is selected for this program you will be granted an age waiver if required.
 
If my medical screening is not reviewed by an Undersea Medical Officer or Diving Medical Officer can I still submit my package?
Yes. If selected, you will have 30 days to complete a submarine physical reviewed by an Undersea Medical Officer.  We encourage you to review the requirements in NAVMED P-117 Article 15- 106 to identify if you may require a medical waiver and begin working to resolve an issues as soon as possible.  

Owing to the nature of submarine service, medical fitness for duty standards are stringent.  All candidates taking daily medications or with significant medical issues requiring frequent follow-up should familiarize themselves with the disqualifying conditions for submarine service. These conditions can be found in the manual of the medical department, NAVMED p-117, article 15-106.  Questions regarding submarine duty fitness standards can be directed at any Undersea Medical Officer (UMO) or submarine Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC) serving in a submarine force billet.

How do the male submariners feel about having women onboard?
There will be mixed reactions depending on personalities and there will definitely be a “warming up” period for most of the crew while they get a feel for how this change affects them. More important than gender will be whether you can do your job, qualify, and support the team. Submariners judge fellow Sailors based on their competency and ability to contribute. It’s a small crew so one person not pulling their weight affects everyone else, if you work hard and pull your weight, gender will be a non-issue.
What does it mean to be stationed on a dual crew submarine?
One submarine has two full crews. The purpose of this is to allow the boat to spend more time at sea throughout the year. Dual crews are generally considered a good deal. Your crew only owns and operates the boat for 50% of the year. When your crew is the “off-crew” you will participate in a lot of training, but there are no duty days, you are home every night and it’s unlikely you will work over the weekend. Overall there is a higher operational tempo for your boat because the boat is almost constantly deployed; maintenance periods are short and challenging but the burden is shared between two full crews.
What is the berthing configuration for women? What is hot-racking?
Women will be placed in three 9 man bunkrooms. The aft crews head is being split during the modification to create one female only head and a single use head for males or females. The forward head is being expanded for the males to maintain same person to head ratio (roughly). The female CPOs will have a berthing area and shower in Chief’s Quarters. The head will be time-shared by male and female CPOs. Hot-racking is when three Sailors share two bunks. It is very common on fast-attack (LA or VA Class) submarines because there are not enough bunks for the whole crew. Hot-racking isn’t a common practice on SSGN/SSBN (OHIO Class) submarines because there are more than enough bunks for each crew member.
How do we communicate with family while underway?
Email can be limited and there is no ability to make phone calls. Typically we are able received more than we’re able to transmit but it depends on the mission and where we are in the world. Alternately, the deployments are about 3 months long, so it can be more isolated while you’re gone, but you aren’t gone for long periods of time.
What ports do submarines pull into?
It depends on the mission and length of the deployment. SSGNs will make some port calls and are forward deployed out of Diego Garcia and Guam. SSBNs make no ports calls for security reasons.
 
What is Sub Pay and how much is it?
Sub pay is similar to hazardous duty pay, but it’s constant once you’ve started BESS – it starts at $75 per month and goes up by time in submarines and rank. You’ll continue to receive sub pay even on shore duty as long as you plan to continue in the submarine force.