It is an interesting discussion and needs to continue at high levels. I see a list of logistical issues that may be difficult to overcome considering the limited space available on subs as currently configured and with all the years of tradition. As a personal note, I'm not so sure I appreciate the implication that I may not be Christian because I'm asking to try to understand what your rather vehement statements are based on. I know women are stationed on subs for some other countries and I haven't seen much on the tube or in print about problems with that policy. On another note, during my Tiger Cruise earlier this year, I saw many women serving on my son's carrier (yeah...I have one of each flavor serving on carriers) and I didn't see anyone during those 2 1/2 days treat female sailors any different from any other sailor doing their jobs.
NavyDads Admin said:To be blunt, my daughter completed a seven month cruise on a carrier recently and she had no issues during that little boat ride....but then again, Kat doesn't take crap from anyone............
John said:Dear Fellow Veterans,
When i was in the army, during Carter's term as Commander in Chief, they started putting females with us males, on the "front line". ( After Vietnam - 76-79 ). I'll never forget the time during a huge LOTTS operation, there at Ft. Story, down from Little Creek - Army, Navy , Marines .... - and this one guy, a real Casanova, he started to put his tent-half together with this Chick. Well, we schlemiels were envious of him, knowing what was his ultimate goal. ( why didn't he want to share a tent-half with one of his former platoon mates ?) So, not long before they were all set to Bed Down Together, one of the NCO's, a Vietnam Vet, came up to this guy's tent and told him, " Fuhgetaboutit."
I am sorry that my old-fashioned (christian) beliefs offend so many people. I am not sorry for my old fashioned beliefs.
Let me ask you all this, as a starting point for us to understand what different World Views we may be assuming; Do you want your daughters shaking up with guys on Surface ships, not to mention Subs? ( isn't it more than 12% of the women on Skimmers are pregnant before the end of the cruise ?) Do you truly , deep down in your hearts, want you daughters sleeping and working around young , Virile , young men day and night , out at Sea ?
Oh, by the way, Bush submitted the idea to start letting young women be stationed on Subs. So Obama can't get all the credit. Forgive my poor writing skills.
john in Georgia
from Navy Times: 5 Oct 2009
Mabus, Roughead support ending ban on women serving aboard subs
By William H. McMichael
and Andrew Scutro
Top Navy and military leadership are “moving out aggressively” to end the ban on female crew members aboard submarines.
And while the motivation may be fairness in the force, it is a move fraught with controversy. Assigning women to sub duty sets a spectrum of issues squarely before the submarine community, from how and when, to cost and training, personal privacy, fraternization, and even how submariners’ spouses will react.
Rapid solutions are needed, as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is pushing the issue hard.
“I believe women should have every opportunity to serve at sea, and that includes aboard submarines,” he said Sept. 24 in a statement to Navy Times. “This is something the CNO and I have been working on since I came into office [in May].” He says the Navy has been “moving out aggressively” to make integration happen.
His comments came one week after Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen told congressional lawmakers that it was time to open subs to women.
Mullen’s successor, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, said he is “very comfortable” addressing crewing.
“There are some particular issues with integrating women into the submarine force, issues we must work through in order to achieve what is best for the Navy and our submarine force,” Roughead said in a statement. “Accommodations are a factor, but not insurmountable.” Navy Times requested responses from Mabus and Roughead after Mullen called for ending the ban, which was part of submitted answers to written questions posed by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Mullen was responding to a question on women in combat and whether any policy changes are needed. He zeroed in on women serving aboard submarines, an issue that gained a high profile toward the end of the Clinton administration but then died out.
“As an advocate for improving the diversity of our force, I believe we should continue to broaden opportunities for women,” Mullen wrote. “One policy I would like to see changed is the one barring their service aboard submarines.” Roughead, in his statement, stopped far short of announcing any major policy changes.
“Having commanded a mixedgender surface combatant, ... I am familiar with the issues as well as the value of diverse crews,” he said. Roughead said the Navy must “manage the community as a whole, such as force growth and retention within a small warfare community.” “The submarine force is much smaller than the surface and aviation forces, and personnel management is more exacting,” he continued. “This has had and will continue to have my personal attention as we work toward increasing the diversity of our Navy.” News quickly reignited the debate in the sub community.
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SS/SW) Rick West said that as a former chief of the boat and a command master chief of a mixedgender surface crew, he’d gladly serve on a mixed submarine.
“Structurally, I realize some work may be required, but culturally, our men and women would adapt quickly, and this would be a seamless change,” he said.
Initial responses to Navy Times from submariners were mostly against the idea, because of the nature of submarine life.
Mullen, who became chairman two years ago, asked the submarine community to look at the issue during his 2½ years as CNO, said Capt. John Kirby, Mullen’s spokesman then and now.
That “look” was not complete by the time he was elevated to his present job, Kirby said, but opening the submarine community to women “is something he has maintained an interest in.” Women, who make up about 12 percent of the 1.2 million U.S. service members on active duty, are by policy excluded from traditional front-line combat jobs. But combat roles have become blurred during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, in which irregular warfare marked by roadside bombs and a lack of the front lines evident in traditional warfare have brought women into harm’s way.
Some young female sailors are already stepping forward.
“I am all for it. Where do I sign up?” asked Electronics Technician 1st Class (SW/AW) Shannon Hart, assigned to Tactical Training Group, Pacific, in San Diego. “It is frustrating being told I can’t do something because I am a woman and then have to listen to my peers whine about equal opportunity.” Hart isn’t the only one who jumped immediately at the news.
“If they need someone to test try this I’m more than willing to do so!” wrote Yeoman Seaman Ana Mantzouranis at Fleet Readiness Center Western Pacific in an e-mail to Navy Times.
A hard life
Submariners live in exceptionally close quarters, even taking turns sleeping in the same bunks on some attack submarines. Officials have said the lack of privacy and the cost of reconfiguring subs already tightly packed with gear and crew members make it difficult to introduce female crew.
Mullen thinks those issues can be resolved.
“He believes that the physical barriers ... can be overcome, as they have been overcome on surface combatants,” Kirby said.
Yet even after integrating the surface fleet in 1993, overcoming ship designs so women can come aboard has no pat answer.
According to Navy Personnel Command, there are 140 surface ships in the Navy with women assigned, but not all can accommodate female officers and enlisted women. New surface ships are designed to accommodate women, while older ships saw urinals replaced with toilets and were checked to “ensure male and female berthings meet Navy privacy requirements,” according to NPC.
The added restriction to submarines is the confined space inherent in the tubular hull. An estimate from 2000 put the berthing modifications needed on a Los Angeles-class attack sub at $5 million. Some facts, such as very narrow passageways that force passing bodies into contact, would remain impossible to overcome.
Even the Navy’s new Virginiaclass submarines aren’t so new that redesign for female berthing could be done easily.
“That design is very mature,” said Bob Hamilton, spokesman at Electric Boat, the submarine builder in Groton, Conn. “It’s in serial production. We have contracts for the first 18 ships.” One solution that would not call for extensive modification could be to allow women to serve on the large Ohio-class ballistic and guided missile submarines. Because of the internal volume required for 24 large-diameter missile tubes, an Ohio-class ship is relatively spacious, and berthing could be divided by gender easily.
Sources tell Navy Times that at least one internal study suggests the Ohio-class fleet as the likely starting platform for integrated crews.
Last spring, sailors aboard the boomer Maryland said that while submarine crews are men’s clubs, some allowed that women would be welcome. And though some submariners think the tight bonds forged undersea would fray with a mixed crew, others look at female sailors in the fleet and know they would excel.
“We can’t hold out forever,” said Chief Missile Technician (SS) Joe Wittmer, of Maryland’s Gold Crew. “A female can do the same job I do. I have no problem with that.”
Gender-specific health and medical care issues are also top items in the debate.
In 2001, the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory produced a 39-page report, “The Medical Implications of Women on Submarines.” The study found that women use a given health care system more than twice as much as men “for all categories of disease.” The potential for pregnancy creates a wide array of problems. For example, if a female submariner were pregnant, the medical study states that it’s unclear what effect the unique environment of a submerged nuclear submarine might have on a developing fetus.
Also, a submarine is supposed to remain undetected, which makes evacuating a medical emergency — such as an ectopic pregnancy — complex logistically and an event that could compromise a sub’s covert mission.
Kirby, Mullen’s spokesman, said these are still issues that need to be resolved.
“He believes the policy should change. But if you were to ask us how exactly would you execute that change, I mean, we don’t have those answers,” Kirby said.
Female sailors in Canada, Norway, Sweden and Australia are allowed to serve on submarines.
A NATO report completed by a Canadian Forces Health Services officer found that studies of the transition to mixed submarine crews revealed “that there was no longer sufficient reason to exclude women from submarine service.” Further, interviews with female submariners in Canada found “all are mature, experienced sailors who simply wish to be considered one of the crew, and do not want to be singled out because they are women.” A ban on women aboard British Royal Navy subs may also be crumbling. News reports from Great Britain last winter said that policy is under review due in part to manning shortfalls and that the new generation of submarines may be designed specifically with female berthing.
Mickey Garverick, who retired as a captain after 20 years in the submarine force, now serves as the executive director of the Naval Submarine League. The organization has no official position on mixed submarine crews, but the topic is not a new one.
“I suspect it will cause some concern, and not necessarily from the submariners, but from the submarine families,” Garverick said, referring to expected resistance from submarine wives.
With future replacement for the current fleet of 14 Trident subs not yet designed, experts say there’s an opportunity to include female berthing in ship plans.
“If it will be addressed, now is the time to do it,” Garverick said. “Converting our current sub marines is a significant task.” Former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Terry Scott, also a submariner, said in early 2006 that he believed women should be allowed to serve in the sub force, but that the biggest obstacle is culture.
But Ian Dent, who served for 23 years in Trident subs and retired in 2006 as a master chief machinist’s mate, has a different opinion.
“I can tell you emphatically that placing women on submarines would destroy the tight-knit cohe siveness necessary for the safe and smooth operation of a submarine,” he told Navy Times. “Being in such confined quarters presents unique situations.” Ë
Staff Writer Mark D. Faram contributed to this report.
How do you feel about women on surface warships?
Good discussion. I have been torn as to whether or not to join in. I think for many jobs on a sub women should be able to perform very well. I was thinking the situtation is a bit more extreme than being part of a tank crew. The US currently does not allow females to be part of tank crews. However, Norway does. It appears that is quite successful.
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