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First Co-Ed Submarine Bunks Opens Job Opportunities for (Australian) Women

A little while ago we talked about the first women allowed to serve on a nuclear submarine–provided that they ranked as officers or above, as that would mean they got their own sleeping quarters. Australia has implemented a different solution to the problem, by premiering its first co-ed submarine sleeping quarters. According to the Australian federal government, the change will offer more women career opportunities, as previously women have missed out on postings due to lack of a place to put them.

“This move will ensure that our female submariners access the same training and career progression opportunities as their male crew mates,” said Defense Science and Personnel Minister Warren Snowdon. Prior to this change, women were only permitted to work on one of the two Australian navy submarines which had female cabins. Out of the reported 560 Australian navy submariners, only 44 of them are women. Hopefully with these new opportunities that number will go up. Who knows, it may even influence the U.S. to pursue something similar.

For the safety of the female officers, there are new rules delegating that no women will be posted anywhere where they are the only female onboard, or where there are no senior female officers. For example, if only two women work on any one submarine, if one leaves they must replace her with another woman. There will also be strict rules about privacy.

(via Sydney Morning Herald)

(Photo via Navy Times)

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  • Jeanne Van Gilder

    As a woman in the Navy (and hopeful submariner), I’m not sure how I feel about co-ed bunks.  There are definite privacy issues.  In the US Navy, sexual assault is rampant, and I can only assume the same for our Aussie brethren.  Co-ed bunking is just a sexual assault/harassment issue waiting to happen.   

  • Anonymous

    I’m sympathetic to that issue.  But, if the Navy’s so worried about assault, why isn’t more being done to attack the problem directly, instead of using segregation?  It’s just “Lock Up the Victim, Navy Edition”.

    I mean, this sounds like a problem with Navy culture in general, with higher-ups either looking the other way or even tacitly endorsing it.  And there’s just no excuse for behavior this egregious among the people who command and operate the most destructive war machines ever created by man.

    I’ve never been military, so you can answer this better than I:  If the brass made it clear that this was not to be tolerated, that all accusations of sexual assault were to be taken seriously, that harassment of victims who report it would also not be tolerated, that the penalty for either victim-harassment or assault itself would be severe, and followed through on those threats by making an example of everyone who defied them, how long would assault continue to be so rampant?

  • Anonymous

  • Tyty Lin 

  • Anonymous

    gonna hunt your spam & flag. @

    people  …. flag these spammers.

  • Anonymous

    gonna hunt your spam & flag. @


    people  …. flag these spammers.

  • Cephalopodcast

    Now, if only Australia had a seaworthy submarine fleet.

  • Jeanne Van Gilder

    Sexual assault is probably the most serious issue in the Navy.  Assault is always taken seriously, and is almost always a career ender.  There is a no tolerance policy.  The officers are almost always fired and the enlisted guys usually get bumped down a paygrade.

    What you may be confusing this with is fraternization.  It’s a similar problem, but often overlooked.  Fraternization is inappropriate relations between basically any and all paygrades, but specifically between officers and enlisted.  This is the kind of problem that is “tacitly endorsed,” to use your phrase.

    Assault is never acceptable.

  • Anonymous

    I’m honestly not trying to be argumentative, but I know what assault is and I feel like there’s a huge disconnect here.  I don’t see how sexual assault could be so rampant if it’s really taken seriously.  And seriously doesn’t just mean serious punishment.  It means that victims aren’t shamed into staying silent or changing their story.  It means that the case doesn’t get derailed because the perp’s friends close ranks, or because someone once saw the victim wearing a revealing dress.

    I mean, either victims aren’t reporting assaults (which is just another way of saying that assault is ingrained in the culture), or they’re not being taken seriously, or the Navy is filled to the brim with psychopathic criminals with no sense of self-preservation.  The perpetrators clearly don’t fear the consequences of their actions, so something’s missing.

  • Jeanne Van Gilder

    Sexual assault in the USN is only .2% higher than that of the general population.  Also, most assaults (I don’t have the exact statistic) occur in young sailors (20-24), the age of those getting right out of bootcamp.  

    Percentage of reported assaults is similar to that of colleges, slightly less than the general population.  That leads back to societal norms, not military cultural norms.

    As a side note, in the military, if you are accused of something, it often doesn’t matter if you’re convicted or not.  Being acquitted at a sexual assault court martial is often worse than a conviction because you live the rest of your career with that on your record.