Conn. base welcomes 1st women bound for subs
Monday, May 9, 2011
GROTON, Conn. (AP) — The local Navy base on Monday welcomed the first class of female officers selected to serve on U.S. submarines.
The eight officers, who are scheduled to join submarine crews in February, will be among the first women to serve on submarines since the Navy repealed a ban.
Until the Navy announced the change last year, women had been barred on the theory that the close quarters and long deployments were unsuitable for coed crews.
The 10-week Submarine Officer Basic Course that began Monday in Groton, a town midway between New York and Boston, also includes 74 men. No changes have been required in terms of lodging or classrooms, Naval Submarine School spokesman William Kenny said.
The women are among 18 selected for assignment to crews of guided-missile and ballistic-missile submarines. They were split into two groups for training, which includes six months of Nuclear Power School and six months of Naval Nuclear Prototype Training besides the submarine school. The other 10 are due to report to their boats in November.
Limiting women to officer slots lets the Navy sidestep the problem of modifying subs to have separate bunks and bathrooms for enlisted men and women. The lone bathroom for officers will bear a reversible sign, letting men know it’s in use by women and vice versa.
The Navy is still exploring the feasibility of modifying submarines’ configurations to open the enlisted ranks to women, said Lt. Brian Wierzbicki, a Navy spokesman at Kings Bay, Ga.
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