It’s Happening!

September 2009


SecNav, CNO: Women should serve on subs.

On a sidenote, I have my nuclear power interview 6OCT.

Posted by Jeffrey Withington in Navy

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  • Being that you connected the two; if that is how you plan to find the future Mrs. Withington …. well ….. we need to have a “mentoring” session. 😉

  • Chaps

    I had a tour as chaplain of a submarine group. Crew wives have concerns about what happens on board now. This idea would make that even worse.

  • Chuck Hill

    Maybe you should wear a skirt.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Re: Interview.

    Break a leg. (Theatrical term)

  • Adm Mullen, et al, cite the benefits of such integration would be a more diverse crew and greater opportunity for women. There was no explanation as to why these are good things. How do those things make the crew more effective? I’m curious if there are any former submarine commanders out there who have reflected upon their careers and thought, “geez, my crew would have been so much more effective if we had a few women on board.”

    If you’re going to advocate for the policy and can’t give a straight answer as to why it is beneficial, then something is wrong. Diversity and opportunity? Huh? The Navy is still focused on national defense, right? I understand that the Admiral probably does not want to publicly disagree with the President. But one can avoid public disagreement without parroting a foolish talking point. I don’t understand why he feels obligated to say things that make no sense, rather than just saying, “this is our position after discussing the issue with the civilian leadership.”

  • doc75

    Why is this a priority when the Navy is proposing gutting the SC,N budget in FY10? Six out of seven amphibs gone. LCS cut in half. JHSV trimmed. SM2/6 cuts. Virginia class sub cut. Command Ship replacement cancelled. FFG-7s retired a year early. But the Navy has time to consider putting women on subs and remodeling all berthing areas and add restrooms on its sub fleet?

    This just looks bad for the Obama administration. This falls into stereotypes of the last Democratic administration: platform acquisition is bad but social engineering is good. I really suggest that the civilian leadership postpone even talking about this for a year or two.

  • Ian J

    If you want to see the results of such ‘Intergration’ just look at the decline of the submarine arm of the Royal Australian Navy since they started bringing women into the ‘Silent Service’.

    In short, it has been a failiure. The crews were NEVER asked if they wanted it. It was forced on them by the Government of the day. The spouses don’t want it, period. The submarine service was used as a vehicle for social change, and now neither men nor women want to serve, the RAN can only crew three out of its six submarines, and alot of this is caused by the implementation of the ‘Women in Subs’ Policy!

    Women in the surface fleet works, not on submarines.

    To the USN…DON’T LET THE GOVERNMENT DO THIS! Or kiss the current USN submarine service goodbye, and be ready for a whole lot of trouble.

  • Chuck Hill

    When we integrated women into the crews of Coast Guard Cutters there were some problems, but there were also benefits. Don’t think it will be as much of a problem as might be assumed.

  • This has been “Happening!!” for years now.

    Statements aren’t actions. There’s going to be a lot of work needed before this comes to fruition.

  • Derrick

    There are lots of women serving in the navy now. What are the concerns regarding women serving on subs?

  • Cap’n Bill

    Big changes such as this wildaxx one should be drives by “needs”. This one seems to be driven by “wants”. After a full look into the many aspects of this particular idea I am sure most reasonable people would conclude the cost overides any advantage.

  • Jay

    About time.

  • RickWilmes

    If there are enough qualified women that want to serve on a submarine than I say give assign them their own submarine? I see no problem with having a men only or a women only submarine, provided the women meet the necessary requirements?

    Of course, there is the risk that the women will do a better job than the men?

  • Fouled Anchor

    Allowing women to serve on submarines will happen, eventually. I don’t think it will be any time soon, and not on any of the boats we have now. Many of the popular arguments against the concept deal with berthing and related issues, and they are legitimate arguments. It will take a new class of boats, designed with those issues in mind.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    A case could be made that designing a new class around a requirement for mixed gender crews might not be the best expenditure of declining resources, considering the already high cost of these highly effective assets.

    A case could be made that the submarine force’s successful and unique subculture would be gravely compromised by the attendant issues that the introduction of women to a class of ship has always brought.

    Likely the first will be ignored and the second proscribed, if previous experience is any guide.

    Nor will the Navy address the problems which may not be addressed and the mention of which may likely be punished before plunging ahead.

    If previous experience is any guide.

  • Anathema

    52% of the population becomes available for a community that has challenges with recruiting, challenges with retention, and challenges with command climate. Sounds like enough of a reason for me.

  • Derrick

    Well…I never thought of the berthing issue until now…yeah…that can be a bit uncomfortable for both sexes…

    Perhaps the best thing is try to automate submarines to minimize crew, and split submaries into all male and all female crewed…

    Probably the best and cheapest approach…

  • “If there are enough qualified women that want to serve on a submarine than I say give assign them their own submarine? I see no problem with having a men only or a women only submarine, provided the women meet the necessary requirements?”

    Seeing as how there are no women on subs right now, this is a statistical impossibility.

    Kind of like people saying that we’d need to start with women of all ranks integrating at once. You can’t be an effective chief/department head on a submarine and not know anything about submarining. This is going to have to be a “from the bottom up” effort where we grow knowledgeable women to serve at all levels. It’s going to take time.

  • Chap

    It’s been ‘imminent’, more or less, the whole time I’ve been in the Navy. Remember the woman who got the EDO dolphins, etc etc? Since this comes up so periodically, here’s my advice on how to implement from four years ago.

    As for the NR interview, here’s my suggestion: Relax. Expect to be asked hard questions. Expect to be in the position where you have to work through the problem to get to something useful. Prepare hard before, but don’t cram. When you walk out of the office, don’t worry about the results until you know what they are; once you did the work, you can’t affect the results any more so just be patient.

    My wife took me after the interview to the National Arboretum, which was a genius move on her part; was good to travel the green path there and relax a little after the day. Have a plan for something besides getting three sheets in that evening–I’ve seen some dudes make a mistake that way.

    I had the pleasure of talking to a retired Naval Reactors many years after he beat me up in my interview. Funnily enough, he told me that those interview days were seen by not only him but his predecessor as particularly enjoyable, where meeting the new midshipmen was a refreshing experience. You will not feel the same way, I would bet…

  • RickWilmes

    Fast Nav,

    At one point in time there were no qualified men for submarines.

    At this point in time, the women can benefit from what has already been learned.

    This prior knowledge will be counter balanced by the naysayers that don’t want to see this happen.

    Let’s say a new sub is designed for an all women crew. I see a smaller sub with smaller weapons, accounting for the smaller size and strength of women. These are technical issues.

    If it were up to me, I would find the most qualified individual that could design a sub and a training program that would take all of these considerations into account.

    The Navy might be surprised at the results.

  • Tom Carney

    The reasons given to make the submarine force coed dilute rather than improve this dwindling asset. A child would know this. Where are the voices of retired XOs, COs, COBs? We were told we were the critical path; why is there an effort to compromise it? Or given the state of affairs we live in, can we assume that there is a reason for everything and no such thing as an unexpected consequence? (former E5(SS))