Navy fills billets for enlisted female submariners
NAPLES, Italy — The Navy says it has filled its first group of billets for enlisted female submariners.
Four chief petty officers and 34 sailors in the grades E-6 and below were selected for two crews of the USS Michigan, an Ohio-class guided-missile submarine based out of Bangor, Wash. Those chosen will undergo a medical screening before entering the submarine training pipeline in Groton, Conn., the Navy said in a statement Monday
The selection is the latest milestone in the Navy effort to bring women aboard submarines, one of the few warfare communities restricted to men before the service lifted its prohibition in 2010.
Female officers first came aboard Ohio-class submarines in late 2011. They reported for the first time to smaller, Virginia-class fast-attack subs earlier this year. The Navy says it will begin bringing integrating enlisted women aboard Virginia-class subs in 2020.
Navy integration plans call for women to eventually make up 20 percent of crewmembers on both Ohio- and Virginia-class submarines. There are currently 55 female officers serving aboard submarines, with six more scheduled to report in July.
The Navy has described the integration process as being a smooth one. Yet recent news that enlisted sailors aboard the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Wyoming had recorded and shared videos of female officers undressing for showers aboard the sub has been embarrassing for the service.
Four petty officers have pleaded guilty to charges related to the videos in a series of courts-martial. Punishments have ranged from 15 days in the brig to two years in prison. One was found not guilty in the case Tuesday. Two more sailors have yet to go to trial.
Women from communities across the service applied for the Michigan billets, according to the Navy statement, many of them from job specialties with no parallels in the submarine force. Navy officials had offered to allow candidates to retrain for new submarine-related jobs.
Applicants were chosen on the basis of performance reviews, recommendations, warfare qualifications and sea service time, among other criteria.
Those who didn’t make the cut this time will still be considered for the next round of selections, for the USS Florida, another Ohio-class guided-missile submarine. Candidates will be allowed to update their applications in the meantime, according to the Navy.