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Navy to Start Intergrating Women onto Submarines

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submarineNavy officials yesterday announced plans to integrate women onto submarines beginning late next year or early 2012, a decision that became public after Department of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told Congress in February that the Navy wants to add women to submarines.

“There are extremely capable women in the Navy who have the talent and desire to succeed in the submarine force,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said. “Enabling them to serve in the submarine community is best for the submarine force and our Navy. We literally could not run the Navy without women today.”

Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, said it would be “foolish to not take the great talent, the great confidence and intellect of the young women who serve in our Navy today” into the submarine force.

The Navy’s plan for integration calls for recruiting female Naval Academy graduates and providing them the same training as given to male submariners, Rear Adm. Barry L. Bruner, commander of Submarine Group 10 and the leader of the Women on Submarines Task Force, said during a phone interview with reporters.

“We’re looking for the same qualifications that we have for men,” Bruner said. “There is no difference.”

Those qualifications include a technically-based education that includes calculus and physics, he said. Female candidates for submarine duty will also undergo the Navy’s intense interview and screening process for prospective underwater sailors.

The plan calls for phasing in three female officers in eight different crews of guided-missile attack and ballistic missile submarines, Bruner said. The class they will serve in is comprised of 14 ballistic missile submarines and four cruise missile submarines, he said. The submarines were chosen because the berthing and restrooms are designed so they need very few changes, he said. It is too soon to say specifically which submarines they will serve on, but there will be one each in King’s Bay, Ga., and Bangor, Maine, he said.