The Navy says that is has completed filling its billets for the first group of female submariners for two crews of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Michigan.
According to a statement released yesterday, the Navy has completed the selection of 4 chief petty officers and 34 sailors in the ranks E6 and below from a wide variety of ratings across the Navy. Each sailor selected will now undergo the usual submariner's medical screening and then head to Groton, CT, to attend Basic Enlisted Submarine School (BESS). Those sailors who applied to change ratings will also receive training through "A" schools (and potentially through "C" school) to prepare them for their new assignments.
The integration of women into the submarine force suffered an embarrassing setback last year when it was uncovered that several sailors aboard the USS Wyoming had been secretly video recording female officers and midshipmen showering. Of the seven second- and third-class petty officers believed responsible, four have pled guilty (receiving sentences of 15 days in the brig to two years in prison) and three are awaiting trial.
Female officers first began serving aboard Ohio-class subs in 2011, and Virginia-class fast-attack submarines earlier this year. The Navy plans to begin integrating enlisted women aboard Virginia-class ships in 2020. Those who weren't selected for the USS Michigan billets will have another opportunity in July 2015, as the Navy will open up the selection process again for the USS Florida, another Ohio-class ship. Those who have already applied will be able to update their applications in the meantime.
Navy plans call for women to eventually make up about 20% of the crews on both Ohio- and Virginia-class ships.