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first women selected for submarines

by Director, Submarine Warfare (N87), Public Affairs

The policy change to allow women to serve in submarines cleared the last hurdle on April 29, 2010, enabling the Navy to select the first female candidates for submarine officer training.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates officially notified congressional leaders of the policy change in a letter dated Feb. 19, 2010. Before the change could take effect, the law required that both houses of Congress be in session for 30 days in order to have time to consider it. When that period expired without congressional action, Rear Adm. Barry Bruner, Commander of Submarine Group TEN and leader of the Women in Submarines Task Force, formally announced the new policy on April 29.

“There are extremely capable women in the Navy who have the talent and desire to succeed in the Submarine Force,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “Enabling them to serve in the submarine community is best for the submarine force and our Navy. We literally could not run the Navy without women today.”

image caption follows
The first women assigned to submarines will be officers.
They will serve in SSGNs and SSBNs, which have
appropriate berthing and facilities to accommodate them.
Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ash Severe

Currently, women make up 15 percent of the active-duty Navy, 52,446 of the 330,700 total. Integrating women into the Submarine Force will increase the talent pool and thus help ensure the future readiness of the Silent Service.

“The young women that have come up to me since we announced our intention to change the policy have such great enthusiasm,” said Adm. Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations. “Knowing the great young women we have serving in the Navy, as a former commanding officer of a ship that had a mixed-gender crew, to me it would be foolish to not take the great talent, the great confidence and intellect of the young women who serve in our Navy today and bring that into our Submarine Force.”

To avoid delay, the Submarine Force will begin by assigning female officers to crews of guided-missile attack submarines (SSGNs) and strategic ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), which have appropriate officer berthing and facilities to accommodate the first women without time-consuming modifications. The assignments will involve the Blue and Gold crews of two submarines on the East Coast and two on the West Coast, for a total of eight crews.

In May, the Submarine Force and the Director, Naval Reactors, selected 19 female midshipmen who were about to receive their commissions—11 from the U.S. Naval Academy and eight from Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) units. The new ensigns will first complete the 15-month submarine officer training pipeline, which consists of nuclear power school, prototype training, and the Submarine Officer Basic Course.

image caption follows

Photo by Olivia Logan.

The Naval Submarine League has established a new award for excellence in submarine acquisition in honor of the late Vice Adm. J. Guy Reynolds. Jan Reynolds, the admiral’s wife, presented the first Vice Adm. J. Guy Reynolds Award to Capt. Michael E. Jabaley, Jr., the Virginia-class program manager for PEO Submarines. The presentation took place at an Oct. 21 Fleet Awards Luncheon during the Sub League’s 2010 Symposium in Tysons Corner, Va. Pictured, from left to right, are Sub League Board Chairman retired Adm. Rich Mies; Capt. Jabaley; Jan Reynolds; Commander, Submarine Forces, Vice Adm. Jay Donnelly; and Sub League President retired Rear Adm. John B. Padgett.

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