December 7, 2015

Women in US subs seemed promising - But then...

Pete's Comment

While the most controversial issue for the UK RN seems to be Trident submarine replacements, women in submarines seems the USN's most public submarine issue.


24 women "pioneering the way toward gender equality"

May be one of the first 24 woman to serve in US subs (Photo courtesy ForceChange(dot)com)
Anna Allison of ForceChange(dot)com “Congratulate First Women to  Serve on Navy Submarines", 2010 

Target: Lt. Britta Christianson and the other 23 women who took part in submarine officer training 

Goal: Congratulate the first women to serve on a Navy submarine and thank them for pioneering the way toward gender equality
The Navy first began to allow women to serve on ships in 1994. However, until recently they were not allowed to serve on submarines. It was believed that allowing women to serve on submarines, where the tour of duty is 90 days in a confined space, would be too distracting for the other soldiers aboard the ship. The ban was lifted in 2010, but the first woman was not certified to work on a sub until June 2012. Congratulate Lt. Britta Christianson on being the first woman to serve on a Navy submarine and for earning her dolphin pin.
The lieutenant spent more than a year training aboard the USS Ohio where she was required to become proficient in basic submarines operations, engineering fundamentals, damage control functions, and qualify as a diving officer. Part of the training involved spending six months deployed on a submarine...
Lt. Christianson is one of the first 24 women who were selected to begin submarine officer training since the Navy reversed the ban in 2010. The women were divided among four of the largest submarines in the Navy. These women were chosen to jump start the pilot program that eventually hopes to integrate women on Navy submarines...[see WHOLE ARTICLE]
But now 3 left!
Lt. Jennifer Carroll (facing). (Photo: MC3 Timothy Schumaker via NavyTimes)

By Meghann Myers and David Larter, NavyTimes, "Sources: Few women choose to stay in submarine force", December 6, 2015

For the first women to earn the coveted dolphin pin, it's decision time about whether to stay in the Navy. And so far, only three of the original 24 have signed up.

The reasons span the work-life spectrum. The demands on a nuclear engineering trained submarine officer. The strain of balancing careers with a spouse who's also a military officer. A lingering sense of disgust after the submarine video scandal.

"I would probably expect that most of the women are going to get out," Lt. Jennifer Carroll told Navy Times. "I don’t know exactly what everyone’s personal reasons are for it, but I think a lot of it has to do with co-location." Carroll, 28, was one of the first women to earn her dolphins in 2012 as a junior officer aboard the ballistic missile sub USS Maine (SSBN-741) and today works with the Submarine Force's integration office in Norfolk [Virginia]...

Keeping officers

[SUBFOR spokesman Cmdr. Tommy Crosby replied]…three of the original 24 women selected for submarines have signed up for their department head tour, and noted that the window for the bonus is still open.

When assessing officer retention, Crosby said officials factor in losses and time served. Five officers have washed out of the program for medical issues, academic failures and other reasons. Something as simple as a shellfish allergy could disqualify a person from submarine service. The service also only counts those who have reached three years of commissioned service.
Factoring in those unplanned losses leaves the retention rate at 16 percent for the first submarine officers, Crosby said.

Crosby noted that retention for nuclear-trained women in surface warfare stands at 14 percent, and pointed out that one women from the 2011 year group has already committed to being a submarine department head…

Couple that with the fact that many more female sailors are married to male sailors than the other way around, and keeping a dual-service family together is a challenge. Carroll said that's the issue for her and many of her colleagues. She said her options to be stationed with her husband for sea duty are limited to Norfolk and the Los Angeles-area Naval Base Ventura County...

Another important factor is the commanding officer. In her case, Carroll said, her skipper made it clear to everyone on the boat that they were all equal and would be expected to do the same things…
The goal is to get women through the initial shock of joining a force where they are still a rarity and then convincing them to stick around for another tour.

Sweetening the deal

The Navy Department is trying to tackle that issue, for officers in general and women in particular, with a slew of new measures announced earlier this year. Among them is a fully-funded, in-residence graduate school program, expansion of the service's career intermission program and — in the future — getting rid of officer year groups altogether.

Officers can take up to three years off with Career Intermission Program (CIP) to raise children, or possibly work in new parenthood during a graduate school stint. But for those staying on active-duty, the Navy extended both installation child care hours and maternity leave this year. Eighteen weeks of maternity leave sounds great in theory, one female officer told Navy Times, but there are still concerns about how it will affect careers...[see WHOLE ARTICLE]

Please connect with Submarine Matters':

All is not gloom and doom. The one and (perhaps still) only female Submarine Officer in the German Navy, Janine Asseln. (Photo courtesy - the German Navy's magazine).


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