Make us your home page

Navy picks submarines that will carry first women

WASHINGTON — The Navy selected four submarines Thursday to carry the first women serving aboard what has been the last class of military vessels off-limits to them.

Twenty-four female officers are in training for submarine service and are expected to join their boats in December 2011.

The Navy selected the USS Wyoming and USS Georgia, based in Kings Bay, Ga., and the USS Maine and USS Ohio, with their home port in Bangor, Wash.

The Navy announced in the spring it was lifting the ban on women serving aboard subs. They had been barred on the theory that close quarters and long deployments common to these vessels were unsuitable for a coed crew.

The 560-foot nuclear-powered ballistic- or cruise-missile submarines chosen Thursday are big by submarine standards, allowing the Navy greater flexibility in designing accommodations for the first women aboard.

The initial class of women will serve in teams of three, all sharing a stateroom, said Lt. Rebecca Rebarich, a Navy spokeswoman. The lone bathroom for officers will bear a reversible sign — letting men know that it's in use by women and vice versa.

Limiting women to officer slots lets the Navy, for a time at least, sidestep the more vexing and cost-prohibitive problem of modifying subs to have separate bunks and bathrooms for enlisted men and women. Enlisted sailors make up about 90 percent of a sub's 160-member crew.

New 'DADT' rules

The Defense Department on Thursday declared "don't ask, don't tell" is once again the law of the land but set up a new system that could make it tougher to get thrown of the military for being openly gay. Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered all dismissals under the 1993 law to be decided by one of the four service secretaries in consultation with the military's general counsel and Gates' personnel chief. Before Thursday's order, dismissal of gay enlisted personnel could be done by any commander at a rank equivalent to a one-star general.

Navy picks submarines that will carry first women 10/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 21, 2010 10:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours