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article imageWomen to serve on U.S. submarines

By Michael Bearak     Apr 30, 2010 in World
Women have been allowed to serve along sides men in all areas of the United States military for years, except on submarines. But that policy is now changing.
It has taken time, but the United States military integrated women into all aspects of their operations, except on submarines. Digital Journal first reported that it was going to change back in February of this year, but now the Navy has taken the final steps to fully integrate women into submarine service.
In the past the major draw back according to the Navy has been that there was not enough privacy on board a submarine. A Fox News article points out that on a typical submarine 40 people can share one bathroom and even officers bunk together.
The move will allow three women to bunk together on smaller submarines. It would also not isolate one female with a group of all men.
As for sharing the bathroom? The Navy has a simple plan, no modification. That doesn't mean that men and women will be shower side by side. What it means is that they will use the simple reversible sign to allow each sex the privacy they need when using the bathroom.
Rear Admiral Barry Bruner summed it up very easily, "We need to open up that aperture so we can bring in these highly qualified, intelligent, enthusiastic women into the submarine program so we can maintain our personnel rankings."
Still, some Naval veterans still don't think it is such a good idea. John Mason, a retired senior chief petty officer, who has served with women, doesn't think it is going to be as easy as people are making it out. Mason points out that there will be physical contact, even through the simple act of passing in the hallways where people are forced to turn side to side.
Linda Cagle, the owner of a restaurant near the Kings Bay Naval Base Submarine Base feels that it more than anyone it is the wives and girlfriends of those serving on subs that have the biggest objections. Cagle explains, "They do not think it's a good idea, they do not want women on submarines with their husbands or their boyfriends."
Fraternizing carries a variety of penalties including fines and can go to dismissal and up to two years of confinement.
Nobody thinks it is going to be "easy" but when you consider what Bruner said, and there is a pool of qualified candidates that can keep the Navy going strong some modifications to submarines to accommodate women may seem like a logical move.
More about Navy, Military, Submarines, Women
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