Navy Names First Two Attack Boats to Have Female Crew

October 15, 2013 1:59 PM
Lt. Thomas Belchik trains Midshipman 1st Class Elizabeth Byers in 2009. US Navy Photo
Lt. Thomas Belchik trains Midshipman 1st Class Elizabeth Byers in 2009. US Navy Photo

Submarines USS Virginia (SSN-774) and USS Minnesota (SSN-783) will be the first nuclear attack boats (SSNs) to field female crewmembers, the U.S. Navy said in a Tuesday statement.

A total of six female sailors — four nuclear trained officers and two supply officers — will report to Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn. no latter than January 2015, according to the statement.

“My plan is to begin by integrating four Virginia-class attack submarines, with the second set of two units being integrated in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016,” Vice Adm. Michael Connor, commander, Submarine Forces, said in the statement.
“I intend to select two Pacific Fleet submarines, homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii early next year.”

Each ship will receive two nuclear qualified officers and a supply officer — to serve as a mentor— as a first step of integrating the attack boats.

USS Virginia (SSN-774) in 2010.
USS Virginia (SSN-774) in 2010.

“The female officers will be assigned to the Virginia-class submarines for duty after completing the nuclear submarine training pipeline, which consists of nuclear power school, prototype training and the Submarine Officer Basic Course,” according to the service.
Since the Navy got rid of the prohibition of women on submarines, the Navy has integrated seven Ohio-class nuclear guided missile (SSGN) and nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBN):

USS Florida (SSGN-728); USS Georgia (SSGN-729); USS Wyoming (SSBN-742); USS Ohio (SSGN-726); USS Louisiana (SSBN-743); USS Maine (SSBN-741),

The Navy began with the larger Ohios since there was more room and flexibility to provide the material accommodation to allow women to serve on submarines. Virginias have more room than the older Los Angeles-class (SSN-688) attack boats to provide berthing to female sailors.

“Female officers serving aboard Virginia-class submarines is the next natural step to more fully integrate women into the submarine force,” Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said in a statement.

The Navy has not released a timeline on which platforms or when female enlisted will enter the submarine service.

Since the service rescinded the no-women-on-subs policy in 2010, it has brought 43 women aboard submarines.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
Follow @samlagrone

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox