Women On Submarines Considered

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Women On Submarines Considered

Postby USS ALASKA » Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:27 pm

Arizona Republic (Phoenix)
September 25, 2009


Women On Submarines Considered

By William H. McMichael and Andrew Scutro, Navy Times

Women should be allowed to serve aboard submarines, and the Navy is "moving out aggressively" to make it happen, according to the service's top civilian.

"I believe women should have every opportunity to serve at sea, and that includes aboard submarines," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Thursday in a statement to Navy Times.

His comment comes a week after Adm. Mike Mullen, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, told congressional lawmakers that he thought it was time to end the ban against women on submarines.

Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, also said he is "very comfortable" addressing the crewing policy.

"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 answers submitted to written questions posed by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mullen was responding to a question on women in combat. He took the opportunity to zero in on women on submarines.

"One policy I would like to see changed is the one barring their service aboard submarines," Mullen wrote.

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Re: Women On Submarines Considered

Postby Bgile » Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:11 pm

I wonder if Mullen has ever served on a submarine. This is one of the worst ideas I've ever heard.

Imagine a crew of 135 persons, mostly young men. Now send them to sea for two months with 15 young women.

I just don't understand what he is thinking.

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Re: Women On Submarines Considered

Postby RF » Fri Sep 25, 2009 6:19 pm

This is an issue recently raised in the RN in Britain, largely due to the political correctness lobby. Most of the service chiefs are not enthusiastic.
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Re: Women On Submarines Considered

Postby José M. Rico » Fri Sep 25, 2009 7:11 pm

If I'm not mistaken in the Spainsh Navy today women can serve aboard submarines.

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Re: Women On Submarines Considered

Postby José M. Rico » Fri Sep 25, 2009 7:17 pm

From the wikipedia:

Women as part of crew

Norway opened up every function in the armed forces to women in 1985, making the Royal Norwegian Navy the first navy to allow female crew. The Royal Danish Navy conducted trials with mixed gender crews in 1985 and 1987, making no alterations to the sub, and allowed for female submariners in 1988.[15] The Swedish Navy made the change in 1989.[16] The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) began to allow female personnel in 1998 and thereafter Canadian Navy in 2002. Germany, Spain and Portugal also allow for females on all military functions, including submarines.[15]

In 1995, Solveig Krey of the Royal Norwegian Navy became the first female officer to assume command on a submarine, the HNoMS Kobben.[17]

The usual reasons for barring women is primness, given the lack of privacy and "hot bunking" or "hot racking", a common practice on submarines where three sailors share two bunks on a rotating basis to save space. The U.S. Navy argues it would cost US$300,000 per bunk to permit women to serve on submarines versus US$4,000 per bunk to allow women to serve on aircraft carriers. However, this calculation is based on the assumption of semi segregation of the female crew, possibly to the extent of structural redesign of the vessel.[18]

The U.S. Navy permits women to serve on almost every other ship in the fleet, only allowing three exceptions for women being on board military submarines: 1) Female civilian technicians for a few days at most; 2) Women midshipmen on an overnight during summer training for both Navy ROTC and Naval Academy; 3) Family members for one-day dependent cruises.[19]

The British Royal Navy does not permit women to serve on its submarines because of "medical concerns for the safety of the foetus and hence its mother" due to the potentially compromised air quality onboard submarines.[20]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarine# ... rt_of_crew

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Re: Women On Submarines Considered

Postby Bgile » Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:21 pm

José M. Rico wrote:If I'm not mistaken in the Spainsh Navy today women can serve aboard submarines.


There is a huge difference between very small diesel submarines and SSNs. Spanish submarines do not spend two months continuously underwater, and their op tempo is constrained by their fuel supply. A few weeks at sea would be fine with a coed crew. It might also be doable on an SSBN, which have two crews and a very easy op tempo. It's SSNs I'm really concerned about. We once spent six months in WESTPAC, during which we were in port a total of 27 days, of which the average crew member got liberty on 17. Once I was coming back from a two month patrol and we got diverted and ran back out a thousand miles looking for a suspicious contact. Diesels don't get into situations like that because they simply don't have the endurance. Normally, everyone goes without sex until you get to a port, so you are all in the same situation. Now a few select members of the crew are going to get sexual favors at sea, and the rest won't. I believe It would be extremely disruptive w.r.t. crew cohesion. Hopefully if they do this I will be proven wrong, but I'm concerned.

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Re: Women On Submarines Considered

Postby Kyler » Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:40 pm

I am all for equality for women in the military but I don't think letting them on submarines is the right thing to do.

The USN has had some difficult times with intergrating their ships with women. This is no means comment on their quality of work but the fact the putting men and women on a small vessel for months on end will lead to issues.

Someone please correct me if I am wrong but didn't the USS John C. Stennis comeback from a cruise a few years ago with 57 of its female sailers getting pregnant while on the cruise.

Not the kind of thing that needs to be going on on a SSBN during a world crisis.
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Re: Women On Submarines Considered

Postby USS ALASKA » Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:58 pm

The problem that comes up again and again is that when you put boys and girls together, they act like boys and girls. It is their genetic impetrative. You cannot train, threaten, or regulate instinct.

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Re: Women On Submarines Considered

Postby USS ALASKA » Wed Oct 07, 2009 12:49 pm

Newport News Daily Press
October 3, 2009


The Debate Is On: Do Submarines Have Room For Women?

By Hugh Lessig

NEWPORT NEWS--Earlier this week, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus was in town and confirmed his desire to end the ban on women serving aboard submarines.

"All other ships have women sailors on board, and they're all doing great," he said.

But the idea has renewed a vigorous debate among submarine veterans and interest groups. Supporters say the Navy should open a door that has been closed to women, but opponents foresee a slew of problems — from flirting, romances and tiffs that harm crew morale to whether female submariners in the early stages of pregnancy would risk the health of their unborn children.

The issue promises to hit home in Hampton Roads.

In Norfolk, seven submarines are home-ported at the world's largest naval base. Across the water in Newport News, submarines are built by Northrop Grumman Corp. in alliance with General Dynamics Electric Boat.

On Thursday, the Navy held a change of command ceremony for the USS Scranton, a fast-attack Los Angeles-class sub. Navy leaders did not address the debate, but sitting in the audience were submarine veterans from the boat's namesake — the hardscrabble Pennsylvania city that built its reputation on coal and railroads.

"It's an experiment doomed to failure," said Bob Mahon. "It's going to have a negative impact on operational readiness."

"Leave it up to the submarine commanders," added John Saeli. "These are the most intelligent guys in the United States Navy. You have to ride to know what goes on."

Bill Hobler, of Newport News, has taken more than a few rides. Now 75, the retired Navy commander served 22 years in the Navy, 16 aboard submarines. He is worried about the stress on military families if crews are mixed.

While submerged, communication is one way — from families to crew — and spouses would be left to speculate about what is going on.

Let's say a sub leaves San Diego and resurfaces months later in Japan, and maybe at that point, the stories start to fly.

"Just think of a rumor getting out that this guy is fooling around with this young sailor," he said.

Commanders must deal with crews and their families, "and as a commander, I would be on pins and needles with my crew and their wives," he said.

Hobler and other critics say their comments should not be seen as insulting the ability of women sailors, who serve with distinction. The most scathing criticism is reserved for Navy brass who are backing the move.

Critics say leaders don't understand the special dynamics of submarine duty: the crews are small, the quarters cramped and everyone knows everyone else. In this type of environment, even the smallest dispute could be magnified to the detriment of the entire crew.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, lit the powder keg when he recently told congressional lawmakers it is time to end the ban. He spoke of broadening opportunities for women, and he was joined by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead.

Mabus, who appeared Tuesday at the Newport News shipyard, told the Daily Press that accommodating women on subs would not require a redesign.

"He doesn't know what he's talking about," said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, an independent public policy group. "Frankly, I think he's embarrassing himself in front of the entire Navy."

Donnelly said she is disappointed in Mabus, Mullen and Roughead for pursuing the idea. In particular, she said Mullen "has demonstrated an appalling unawareness of the health hazards involved."

Because the air is constantly recycled while undersea, the carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide levels — while safe for adults — present a high risk of birth defects in unborn children, especially early in gestation when a woman might not know she is pregnant.

Donnelly pointed to a 1995 study prepared for the Navy by Science Applications International Corp. that she says should be required reading before proceeding further. It points out the difference in habitability standards between surface ships and submarines and the dangers of having to evacuate a pregnant sailor in the middle of a deployment.

And Donnelly agrees about the prospect of romances and affairs with young men and women living shoulder to shoulder, bonding socially through the shared hardships of deployment.

"We know on the surface ships it has been a problem," she said. "We know people are human. And any kind of distraction, if it interferes with the operation of the ship, it becomes a safety issue."

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Will Women Serve On Navy Subs?

Postby USS ALASKA » Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:23 pm

Seattle Times
October 9, 2009
Pg. 1


Will Women Serve On Navy Subs?

Rule Change favored by Joint Chiefs head. But at Kitsap base, some worry about sex, wives and toilet space

By Christine Clarridge, Seattle Times staff reporter

BANGOR, Kitsap County — Amy Augustine knows there are many wives and girlfriends who despise the idea of women serving at sea alongside their men in cramped submarines for months at a time, but she isn't among them.

"I have no problem with that," said Augustine, 25, who is married to a submariner assigned to the Trident-class USS Ohio. "I trust my husband."

Her friend Trina Lopez, the wife of a Navy corpsman, agrees.

"Women should have every opportunity men have," said Lopez, 33, whose husband is not assigned to a submarine. "But everybody needs to be an adult, and the Navy should have them sign a waiver admitting that the guys are rude and crude and you're not going to call harassment."

Submarine service, long among the last of the Navy's male-only bastions, could soon be in for a drastic change after Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he would like to see the Navy change its rule barring women from submarine service.

In response, Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, issued a statement this week in which he said he is "very comfortable addressing integrating women" into the force, but added, "There are some particular issues ... we must work through."

The idea of women serving on submarines is old news in and around Bangor, where Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor is home to eight of the nation's 14 SSBN-class submarines and two of its four SSGNs. The issue has been kicked around for years, say former and current sailors.

"You have to remember, this was out on the table in the '90s," said Eric Barnes, of Bremerton, who spent most of his 20 years in the Navy as a missile technician on fast-attack and Trident-class subs, most recently the USS Georgia.

The official arguments against women serving in the "silent service" often focused on the crews' lengthy deployments, the boats' cramped quarters and the difficulty creating gender-separated sleeping and toilet facilities in the confined space.

Unofficial arguments against integration, which still appear in Web discussions on the topic, include the potential for romantic entanglements, pregnancies, plumbing problems and the outcry of some Navy wives.

"Just about every Navy wife I talked to did not like the idea one bit," said Barnes. "They felt secure that when their husbands went to sea, they didn't have to worry about them."

"But," he added, "when women went into combat, you knew it was coming. If you can let them be shot at, you can put them in a submarine."

Lt. Cmdr. John Daniels, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon, said that female officers could begin training as early as next year and report to ballistic-missile and cruise-missile submarines by 2011. Many of those women could be sent to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.

The conversion to mixed-gender crews would begin with the Trident submarines because they're much larger than fast-attack subs and "appear to require less modification," Daniels said. "It would allow us to move out more quickly as we implement women into the submarine corps."

On fast-attack submarines, approximately 150 personnel live in space the size of a three-bedroom house. Officers sleep in three-person staterooms, each the size of a small closet, and all 15 of them share a single shower, sink and toilet.

For female officers to live on the submarines, some three-person berths would be reserved for them and they would share the bathroom — known as a "head" — with men in a time-sharing arrangement. The submarines would have to be modified to provide adequate privacy for enlisted women and men, senior officers said.

Some local sailors, though, don't welcome the idea.

"We feel like we won't be able to walk around or talk a certain way," said a young submariner who was at the Horse and Cow, a Kitsap County bar popular with submariners, on Wednesday night.

"Plus, don't a lot of women have mood swings? I'm pretty sure they are more emotional than men and they could crack under stress," said the sailor, who didn't want to give his name or his billet.

He went on to say, however, that he believes the first women who served on submarines would be well qualified, professional and "super high up."

Steve Sheets, 51, of Bremerton, who will retire in 10 months from a Navy career that included 14 years on subs, said he thinks the change will be difficult, especially for sailors who have spent 18 to 20 years doing it one way. But, ultimately, he thinks it will turn out fine.

"Once it's done," he said, "I don't think it's even going to turn out to be that big of a deal."

Information from The Washington Post and Scripps Howard News Service is included in this report.

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Re: Women On Submarines Considered

Postby USS ALASKA » Wed Oct 14, 2009 1:23 pm

Houston Chronicle
October 14, 2009


Navy Moves To Put Women On Submarines

By Russ Bynum and Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press

ST. MARYS, Ga. — Submariners sleep nine to a bunk room. There are four showers and seven toilets for the roughly 140 enlisted men. The passageways on board the vessel are so narrow that crew members can barely squeeze by each other without touching.

And that's on the roomiest submarines.

The Navy is considering allowing women to serve aboard submarines for the first time, 16 years after bringing female sailors onto surface combat ships.

Some sailors and wives warn that putting men and women together in extremely close quarters underwater for weeks at a time is just asking for sexual harassment cases and wrecked marriages. But supporters of the idea say it is a matter of fairness and equal opportunity, and what worked on ships can work in subs.

“There's just a whole lot less privacy on board a submarine,” said retired Navy Capt. Mike McKinnon, commanding officer of the Kings Bay sub base near St. Marys from 2004-07 and a former skipper of the submarine USS Kentucky. “But I think grown adults and professionally minded people can deal with those issues.”

Over the past two weeks, top leaders at the Pentagon have said they are considering ending another in the dwindling number of military specialties reserved for men only. Officials said a decision could come soon, and women could be aboard subs by 2011.

The Navy will have to work through a host of issues first. Would men and women get separate bathrooms and sleeping quarters, as is already done aboard surface ships? Would the process of integrating subs begin with female officers, followed by enlisted women? What would happen if a woman discovered at sea that she was pregnant?

“If women can be on space shuttles and on surface ships, I think they ought to be able to work on submarines,” said Lisa Goins, who retired in February after a 20-year Navy career. She served aboard aircraft carriers and at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Kings Bay is the East Coast base for the Navy's Ohio-class submarines, which are armed with Trident nuclear missiles and go on 77-day tours of duty underwater. The 18 Ohio-class subs would probably be the first to take on women since they are the largest in the undersea fleet, 200 feet longer than the Navy's fast-attack submarines.

Still, at 560 feet, Ohio-class subs are a tight fit for their 160-man crews. Sailors sleep in cramped bunk rooms roughly the size of walk-in closets. The 140 enlisted men share two bathrooms. (The officers have separate facilities.)

The passageways and hatches are so narrow that those aboard are always rubbing up against each other — a situation played for laughs in the 1959 Cary Grant comedy “Operation Petticoat,” in which a World War II sub rescues a group of stranded Army nurses.

The Associated Press sought permission to interview sailors at Kings Bay about the potential policy shift, but after a week, the Navy had yet to give its approval. Sailors contacted outside the base would not comment.

On blogs and online networking sites, wives of submariners have warned that the close contact could lead to sexual temptation and other complications.

“I completely believe this would put strain on some relationships because there are trust issues,” said Jennifer Simmons, whose husband serves on a submarine at Kings Bay. “It's asking for sexual harassment cases left and right. If you're trying to go through a passageway together, guess what — you're going to touch.”

The Navy bans “fraternization” between unmarried men and women. Punishment can range from a letter in the offender's file to a court-martial. Navy officials said they had no immediate figures on reports of fraternization aboard its ships.

The rule change that allowed women to serve on combat ships was pronounced a success by the Navy long ago. But it was not all smooth sailing.

In the mid-1990s, the aircraft carrier Eisenhower was nicknamed “The Love Boat” after 15 women became pregnant and a man videotaped himself having sex with a woman. However, the Navy said 12 of the women who conceived did so before boarding the ship, and the three others got pregnant during shore leave.

Officials said the paperwork for changing the policy on submarines is being drawn up and could be finished by the end of the month or early November, after which it would be sent up the chain of command and then to Defense Secretary Robert Gates for his approval. If Congress wants to block the move, it must pass legislation.

Key military leaders have already said they favor changing the policy that has allowed women on all surface ships since 1993 but still bans them from submarines. Women are allowed to serve on subs in a few countries, including Australia, Canada, Norway, Spain and Sweden.

McKinnon, the former base commander, said he suspects unhappy spouses would be the biggest obstacle to a change in policy. He acknowledged that sailors serving undersea together for weeks without surfacing form close bonds.

“I think there's this concern that if you have women out there, they're going to develop feelings for each other and have bad things happen,” McKinnon said. “I think that's a natural thought. But the surface Navy's come through it.”

He added: “You work with women in the workplace. You should be able to work with them on submarines.”

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Re: Women On Submarines Considered

Postby Bgile » Wed Oct 14, 2009 3:44 pm

It's weeks at a time in those other submarine navies. In the USN it's months at a time. I spent a six month westpac cruise on USS Haddock. We made three patrols during that time. The ship was in port a TOTAL of 27 days, and we were submerged almost the entire time other than that. The average crew member got to go ashore on 13 days. It was less for the engineering folks because they had to keep the power plant up in most of the ports.

And they want to put a few women in that ship? The boomers are a lot better. More room, less time at sea, etc. But still challenging.

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Women on USN Sub's

Postby Kyler » Sat Feb 27, 2010 4:53 pm

Well I am surprised no one posted that story this week. The USN is moving towards the adoption of women onboard
USN nuclear submarines.

So what is everyone's take on this move?

Personally I don't have anything against women serving in the military in any role. Though knowing the history of issues on some USN surface ships especially CVN's, I don't know if its a good idea. You put men & women in a small metal tube underwater for months on end, I bet with absolute certainty you'll have little submariners showing up shortly later. I just don't think its going to help the USN submarine fleet be any better unless women get to sub their own boats just by themselves.
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Re: Women on USN Sub's

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Sat Feb 27, 2010 7:10 pm

After thinking on it very seriously I see not a single issue of weight to be against this normative. That is because I have never, ever, seen any difference between men and women to take military activities at all. As I can see, also, some of the greatest leaders and decision makers of XX Century have been women as Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher and cannot visualize one single of them swallowing Hitler`s fairy tales at Munich as Chamberlain and the french did.

Also my country has just voted for a female President (I didn`t vote for her but because of ideology differences, she wasn`t that far to the right as my likes) and has been doing a fair preparation work. She will do fine. And I do expect that the US will have their own female President soon (not Hilary, of course).

Basically in a sub there can be some issues regarding showers and heads but that will be it. The US personnel is highly educated and I do not think they will give the women a hard time, because there is no hard time to give, anyway. When firing a torpedo against a chinese destroyer or an Irani transport full of terrorists women can and will give the order as easy as any man or would execute with that same ease. And they can order and execute the firing of a nuclear missile against some islamic worthless country if the case come to that. So, the USN is steaming well ahead with that decision, not a problem at all.
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Re: Women On Submarines Considered

Postby Bgile » Sat Feb 27, 2010 7:50 pm

Bgile wrote:It's weeks at a time in those other submarine navies. In the USN it's months at a time. I spent a six month westpac cruise on USS Haddock. We made three patrols during that time. The ship was in port a TOTAL of 27 days, and we were submerged almost the entire time other than that. The average crew member got to go ashore on 13 days. It was less for the engineering folks because they had to keep the power plant up in most of the ports.

And they want to put a few women in that ship? The boomers are a lot better. More room, less time at sea, etc. But still challenging.


The inability of most women to move around heavy weights is another issue. you'd be surprised how many things like that there are on a submarine.


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