The nuclear submarine has long been one of the last completely gender exclusive posts in many navies around the world. The typically long and isolated deployments, along with a very cramped and communal environment has kept armed forces from being comfortable with creating co-ed submarine crews. According to Wikipedia the U.S. Navy allows only three exceptions to the ban on women in submarines, “female civilian technicians for a few days at most; women midshipmen on an overnight during summer training for both Navy ROTC and Naval Academy; [and] family members for one-day dependent cruises.”
However, the U.S.’s ban on women in subs has recently been overturned (at least partially) and yesterday eight women officers reported for the Submarine Officer Basic Course in Groton, Connecticut.
Currently, only women who are officers are exempt from the ban. It was determined that since the rank of officer on a submarine comes with the privilege of a private bunk and a officer-only bathroom, this sidestepped many of the reasons for denying women the opportunity to serve there. According to the AP, “the lone bathroom for officers will bear a reversible sign, letting men know it’s in use by women and vice versa,” and “the Navy is still exploring the feasibility of modifying submarines’ configurations to open the enlisted ranks to women.”
This is definitely a case where we’re willing to recognize that just building another bathroom/barracks is not as easy or feasible as it might sound. We wish these service women well, as they boldly go where women have rarely gone before.
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