The Department of the Navy announced eight years ago that women would be allowed to serve on Navy submarines. This was a historic moment for female sailors.
There are now almost 80 female officers and 50 enlisted women assigned to the submarine service. Military personnel anticipate the number of female sailors on subs to reach into the hundreds in the next few years and they are actively searching for candidates to fill these positions.
In doing so, the Navy has extended the deadline for enlisted female sailors to apply to the submarine force. The previous deadline was April 2018. Female sailors in the ranks E-1 through E-8 now have until June 1, 2018, to submit their application.
Female Sailors Get an Additional Two Months to Apply for the Submarine Service
The USS Michigan was the first Navy submarine to have enlisted female sailors added to its roster. The USS Florida followed it with 30 female sailors in its ranks. By 2020, the Navy expects to add 550 female sailors to seven Ohio-class subs. That would make up about 20% of the crews.
To accommodate female sailors on these two subs, simple modifications were made to berthing and bathrooms.
Now new submarines are designed specifically with female sailors in mind. It isn’t just adding separate living and bathing areas either.
The USS New Jersey will be the first submarine built with features tailored to female sailors. This includes making valves easier to turn as well as lowering them to accommodate the height of female sailors.
Steps will also be built in front of triple high bunk beds and washing machines will be stacked. Emergency air masks will also be placed on the side instead of the ceiling to make them easier to reach.
The USS New Jersey, the first Columbia-class ballistic-missile sub with these modifications, is expected to be delivered in 2021.
In an effort to fill the positions upon these subs, the Navy is actively recruiting females from outside the Navy as well. The overall manpower of the military is on the decline. There was recently a hearing in the House Armed Services military personnel subcommittee where the personnel chiefs were challenged to recruit more service members. The focus on primarily recruiting males has shifted to searching for female candidates.
As of February of this year, about 16% of the 1.3 million service members that make up the total military force are female.
People do not feel compelled to join the military like they once did. It is estimated that only 29% of males and females between the ages of 18 and 23 would meet the qualifications to join the military.
Recruitment is tough with many young men and women choosing to go to college, trade school or straight into the workforce after high school. There just aren’t many people that want to join the military these days.
Aggressive recruitment strategies are now in place to fight for recruits.
Recruiters are now being sent to talk to female athletic teams.
Previously, recruiters would mostly just go to male athletic departments. The military believes that individuals that are a part of athletic programs are more likely to want to join the military and be qualified to do so.
With more ratings, such as submarine service, now opened to females, military personnel feel strongly that they will be better able to attract these younger individuals. Only time will tell if this new marketing approach works.
If you are interested in joining the military talk to your local military recruiter.
If you are a female sailor interested in transitioning into the Silent Service, submarine life, talk to your detailer or find out more information here.