The Navy has released the outline for its plan to have enlisted women serve onboard submarines starting in 2016.
In a series of messages administrative messages released Wednesday afternoon, the service outlined its plan to incorporate enlisted females into the force starting with the Blue and Gold crew of the Ohio-class nuclear guided missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN-727) in 2016 and new Virginia-class nuclear attack boats starting in 2020.
“Initially, sailors will be selected and trained for rating conversion to serve aboard SSGNs and nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) previously integrated with female officers. The first two crews will be integrated in 2016, with an additional two to four crews added each year through 2021,” read the message.
The Navy rescinded its males-only policy on submarines in 2010.
“Today, many of the people who have the technical and leadership skills to succeed in the submarine force are women. We will need them,” said Vice Adm. Michael Connor, commander, Submarine Forces in a Wednesday Navy statement.
“Integrating female officers into the submarine force has increased our talent pool and subsequently the force’s overall readiness, ensuring that we will remain the world’s most capable force for ensuing decades. Following our successful and smooth integration of women officers into the submarine force, the Navy’s plan to integrate female enlisted is a natural next step.”
To date, about 50 female officers have been integrated onboard both types of Ohios.
Since the restrictions were lifted, the two barriers were qualified female submariners and physical limitations of the boats.
The Navy has expanded its pipeline for qualified officers and is now expanding its efforts for female enlisted.
“Our plan presents an opportunity for female Sailors in selected ratings and from pay grades E-1 (seaman recruit) to E-8 (senior chief petty officer) to convert into submarine force ratings,” said Rear Adm. Charles A. “Chas” Richard, commander, Submarine Group 10 and leader Women in Submarine Task Force in a statement.
The Navy will also work to modify submarines to include female enlisted crew.
“Supporting the integration of submarine crews will require modifications of the SSBNs, SSGNs, and new construction Virginia-class SSNs,” Richard said.
The revelation of the plan follows reports of a Navy criminal investigation into alleged video taping of female sailors undressing onboard USS Wyoming (SSBN-742).