The French Navy plans to lift restrictions to allow women sailors to crew the service’s Triomphant-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a Tuesday speech in Paris.
“The Navy chief of staff has decided on a trial basis to assign three women officers to a crew on the ballistic missile submarine fleet from 2017, following a selection of volunteers this year and after a training course starting in 2015,” Le Drian said in a speech reported in Defense News.
“This trial exercise, which is highly symbolic, allows laying down the foundation for a long-term crewing of women on French submarines.”
The sailors will be assigned to one of the four Triomphant SSBNs as part of France’s nuclear strategic deterrence force.
The move from the French MoD follows U.S. and U.K. lifting of restrictions of female sailors on SSBNs.
The U.S. Navy lifted gender restrictions on submarines starting with the service’s Ohio-class SSBNs and nuclear guided missile submarines (SSGNs) in 2010 and has identified the first two integrated attack boats last year.
The U.K. lifted restrictions on its Vanguard-class submarines in 2011 and the first women began serving late last year.
Triomphant boomers displace about 14,335 tons — about half the size of U.S. Ohios — and field 16 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM).
France also fields six Rubis-class nuclear powered attack boats.