Virginia Subs to Get Berthing Changes for Female Crew
October 23, 2014
Sub designers are puzzling out how to fit enlisted women into the berthings on the Virginia-class attack submarines already in the force.
“Right now we are doing the work to do the design changes for the in-service Virginias,” said Rear Adm. David Johnson, the program executive officer for submarines, in a Thursday speech.
“Frankly the tough part is to integrate the enlisted berthing and the chief's quarters. The officers are fairly easy to adapt to, but the enlisted berthing and the chief’s quarters you have to do a little bit of work on the ships and we're trying to do that as affordably and non-disruptively as possible,” Johnson said.
Johnson, speaking at the Naval Submarine League’s annual conference in Fairfax, Virginia, said that getting mixed-gender crews on as many subs as possible was a priority. The sub force began its integration in late 2011 with the arrival of female officers — roughly 50 of them now serve aboard 14 boomer crews — and officials are now moving towards the next steps of integrating attack boats and enlisted crews.
“We are looking forward to mixed-gender officer, chief petty officers and enlisted on our submarines going forward,” Johnson said. “It's a must, it's the right decision and we're moving forward.”
A task force led by the recently disbanded Submarine Group 2 recommended that enlisted women and chief petty officers begin serving on attack boats as the Block IV Virginia-class subs begin fleet service around 2020; these vessels are being designed with fully integrated crews in mind.
Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer, head of Submarine Force Pacific, said retooling the current Virginias would not move up the timeline for getting women into attack boat crews.
The first Virginia-class attack subs to be integrated are the Virginia and Minnesota, which are slated to receive female officers in early 2015. Enlisted women will begin serving on the Ohio-class boomers as soon as 2016.