The U.S. Navy has selected more than three dozen female enlisted sailors to qualify to serve aboard a submarine in a historic first for the sea service as part of a plan to more fully integrate women into the undersea force.
The 38 selected female sailors are only the first step in a long-term plan approved by Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert to integrate the US Navy’s submarine force and provide opportunities for women to serve in all missions, the US Navy News Service said in a statement.
“Applications from women… were received for the initial application period to fill four chief petty officer… and 34 rating conversion positions… across the two crews of the USS Michigan (SSGN 727),” the statement said.
The Michigan is one of the US Navy's Ohio-class guided-missile submarines based in Bangor, Washington.
The 38 women were chosen through a competitive process based on the sailors’ performance in their current rating, their desired submarine rating assignment, the needs of Michigan’s two crews, and the overall needs of the Navy for rating community health, according to the statement, along with “performance evaluations, warfare qualifications, commanding officer endorsements, sea service time, physical readiness testing, and similarity of current rating to desired submarine rating.”
The authorities also said that the second group of female sailors will be assigned to another Ohio-class guided-missile submarine, USS Florida (SSGN 729), based in Kings Bay, Georgia.
In 2012, Pentagon lifted the ban on employing women in combat jobs, but allowed the military services to use a gradual process to integrate women in male-only positions.