The Navy Supply Corps continues to pioneer the integration of women in submarines as the Navy expands opportunities to enlisted female chiefs in the rates of Logistics and Culinary Specialists.
Since November 2011, female Supply Corps officers and Unrestricted Line officers were the first women to successfully integrate 14 crews for seven Ohio-class guided missile (SSGN) and ballistic missile (SSBN) submarines. Submarines with women currently serving on board are USS Florida (SSGN 728), USS Georgia (SSGN 729), and USS Wyoming (SSBN 742), homeported in Kings Bay, Georgia; and USS Ohio (SSGN 726), USS Louisiana (SSBN 743), USS Maine (SSBN 741), and USS Michigan (SSGN 727), homeported in Bangor, Washington.
Female officers serving aboard Virginia-class submarines is the next step to more fully integrate women into the submarine force. The fast attack submarines USS Virginia (SSN 774) and USS Minnesota (SSN 783), homeported in Groton, Connecticut, have been selected as the initial two Virginia-class submarines to integrate female officers in calendar year 2015.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s January 25, 2013, decision to overturn the 1994 rule banning women from serving in combat roles has enabled the Navy’s long history of inclusion and integration to continue to evolve.
The expanded integration plan for submarines aspires to account for 20 percent of the enlisted crew comprised of women. The strategy is to have a phased approach starting with integration of four female chief petty officers in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2015 and building to full integration of SSGN and SSBN crews by 2020. This is a historic step toward equality, and also enables the Navy to capitalize on an untapped talent pool for the submarine community.
The Navy will utilize a mix of new accessions into all submarine rates as well as targeted conversions from surface communities to achieve the 20 percent female manning goal. The targeted rates for direct conversion at the grade of chief petty officer include Information Systems Technician, Yeoman, Logistics Specialist, and Culinary Specialist. These four ratings were identified because the technical expertise of the rate translates well to the comparable rate on a submarine. Additionally the “A” schools for these rates are the same for surface and submarine forces. Independent duty corpsman (IDC) chiefs will also be utilized but will augment the cohort while maintaining their normal career progression.
Following integration of chiefs, E-6 and below, Sailors will also have the opportunity to convert to any of the 11 submarine rates for which they qualify.
The enlisted women in submarines task force issued a targeted survey to more than 50,000 enlisted females in April of 2014. More than 25 percent of those targeted participated with 29 percent of the respondents expressing some level of interest in serving on a submarine.
A NAVADMIN message, expected to be released in early 2015, will detail the conversion process. Applications will be accepted immediately following the release of the NAVADMIN and processed by the Submarine Enlisted Community Manager (ECM). CPO applications will be vetted through a selection panel. Final approval will be made by Submarine Forces.
Once selected, training will commence in calendar year 2015 for chiefs and lateral conversion Sailors. All selectees will attend the seven week Basic Enlisted Submarine School (BESS) in Groton, Connecticut. For specific information on the minimum criteria for selection to the Enlisted Women in Submarines (EWIS) program, please review the EWIS brief available via the Submarine Enlisted Community Manager (ECM) NPC website.
Being part of the all-volunteer submarine force affords a very unique opportunity for true job satisfaction. As a member of a submarine crew, Sailors train within the spectrum of unique submarine mission sets. In addition to participating in a historic change, there are also tangible benefits to serving in the submarine forces. On top of sea pay, submariners are entitled to enlisted submarine duty incentive pay which starts upon completion of BESS and continues on shore duty as long as the Sailor obligates to return to a sub. Particular sub rates also receive special duty assignment pay and currently all submarine rates receive some type of service reenlistment bonus (these two types of pay are subject to change). Most submarine rates have a higher advancement opportunity as compared to their surface counterparts. Conversion also provides an opportunity to earn an additional warfare device.
If service in subs is a challenge you are interested in, please look for the forthcoming message for instructions on how to apply.
By Cmdr. Michelle M. Williams, SC, USN, Supply Enlisted Community Manager