Navy could integrate enlisted females on subs in 2016

The Navy is taking steps to integrate enlisted females on submarines, beginning with a survey to every enlisted female in the Navy to gauge interest in serving on the ships, the Brunswick News reports.

Once the surveys come in, the Navy is expected to make a decision by early 2015.

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“The ability to attract, recruit and retain quality female sailors is essential to the success of integration. It will also be a big challenge,” Navy spokesman Lt. Timothy Hawkins said.

But retired Navy Master Chief Royal Weaver said there will be challenges, such as where the women will sleep on the space-constrained ships.

Female officers have already been integrated onto submarines, and sleep in state rooms given to officers and use the same bathrooms as men by using a sign to indicate they are inside.

Integrating female enlisted could be more difficult, since they will not necessarily have their own rooms.

Weaver said the sailors’ recreation lounge could be converted into a women’s bathroom and shower. The largest submarine, an Ohio-class submarine, is 570 feet long, and has a crew of about 150.

Other concerns could be whether more experienced enlisted males will listen to a female chief, and making sure young male and female submariners don’t have inappropriate relationships, Weaver said.

Every time the Navy changes, there are sacrifices,” Weaver told the paper. “I think there will be growing pains.”