In 2011, the Navy lifted the ban on female submarine officers and trained the first crew of women command officers. Submarines were the last class of military vessel banning women officers.
Before they were famous, many truly influential men and women started by serving their country in the US military or grew up in military families.

First Female Submarine Officers Prepared for Navy Challenges

Although change is often slow and met with resistance, the Navy has always been ahead of the groove.

The Navy actually experienced a growth spurt in the early 21st century, despite the daunting challenge of banning smoking on submarines in 2010. Now the Navy is proudly leading again by breaking down gender barriers and boosting both morale and new recruits.

In 2011, the Navy's "silent service" enacted one of the most dramatic changes in its 111-year history: lifting the ban on female submarine officers and training the first crew of women command officers. Submarines were the last class of military vessel banning women officers.

The Navy is also taking great strides in preparing military service members and their spouses for this latest Navy lifestyle challenge.


The Navy first admitted women crewmembers on submarines in April 2010. According to a Navy spokesman, Navy crewmembers and officers went through training and town hall meetings for Navy families, in order to work toward acceptance of the close quarters and shared responsibilities between genders.

Ensign Peggy LeGrand, among the first group of female officers set to join the elite submarine force at the end of 2011, is most concerned about the critical observation that accompanies crossing gender barriers in the military.

Although enlisted rank positions which comprise 90 percent of a submarine's sailor crew are not yet open to women, that status may change as the Navy modifies the ship space to add separate bunks for men and women.


Little has been done to formally recognize the expanded opportunity for women on submarines; the Navy seems to be treating females no differently than their male counterparts. According to Ensign Kristin Lyles, one of eight women among dozens of men to complete the Navy's 10-week Submarine officer course, the sudden presence of females in the program was not even mentioned during the graduation ceremony.
While the Navy appears to be treating female trainees like any other military service member, officials are working to prepare the military submarine crews and their wives for the introduction of women to a traditional male-only, close-quartered space. The strategy has been to make gradual transitions and allow ample training time for personnel adjustment.


The female officers will report to their 4 separate ballistic-missile submarines starting in late November of 2011 - the USS Wyoming, USS Georgia, USS Maine, and USS Ohio.


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