Women to be allowed to serve on USN submarines. Good idea?

http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/02/23/women.sub.duty/index.html?hpt=T1

Some discussion of the issue in this thread (which, beware, starts with a link to an April Fool’s Day spoof): http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=492431

So… do you think the proposed policy is a good idea? I hope so. The unanimity among the DoD brass is surprising but gratifying.

And what sub is that shown in the picture? Looks like a minisub on the back of an SSBN.

If the people in charge were really smart, female personnel would dominate submarines, fighter planes, and space missions. Why not work to physical strengths?

Women are smaller, use fewer resources; it seems like a sensible idea.

As for the “men will fight over the women” argument I hear now and then; first, that’s the fault of the men involved, and a failure of discipline. And second, that sounds to me more like an argument for more women, not for banning them.

Cite? Is this based on better vision or hearing or something? I have read that women make better snipers. Something having to do with them being more paitent and their breasts absorb their heartbeat better then a mans for more accurate long range shooting. Although thats only part of being a sniper I suppose. I don’t think women should be in that position especially in the part of the world we are fighting in.

First to answer questions in reverse order: That is, I believe, the ASDS: Advanced SEAL Delivery System. But I may be wrong, since the way I’m reading the wikipedia article there was only one prototype, and it’s been destroyed by fire.

As for women in the crews, the only reason not to have women serving, that holds any water, are the concerns about privacy issues. And there I agree with the last line of the article: it’s a real consideration, but not an insurmountable one.

Obviously YMMV, but it would take some serious arguing to convince me otherwise.

Women serve aboard RAN (Royal Australian Navy) submarines and have done for some time- one of my female friends is a submariner and they perform the same duties as men.

I’m surprised the same isn’t true in the US, so I’m definitely in favour of the suggestion.

They have better fine muscle control; steadier hands.

The obvious reason - women are smaller. Shorter and lighter. Do you know how much it costs to send one extra pound into space?

I have also read that women tolerate stronger G forces without passing out and that they also have a higher tolerance for cold, particularly cold water dunkings (which makes sense considering the higher percentage of body fat) but for many military applications sheer size is a factor. My dad wanted to serve on a sub in the 50’s but wasn’t allowed because of his height.

Why would they not? Will they be raped by their male crew members? Off with their heads.

Privacy issues? Well, for one, once you have enough of them, they can have their own bathroom (I know, head, or something). Secondly, they know how it works, I am sure enough of them will find that having some random dude seeing her ass is an ok price to pay for being in a sub, if that’s what they want.

The men fighting over them? blah, already an issue or not an issue with gay members.

Dive, dive, dive, my ladies.

heh, you have no idea how many guys in the sub fleet I know that are over 6 feet tall … not to mention big and beefy [I know one guy that was a noseguard before he enlisted, and another guy who was into bodybuilding and could barely close his fingers because he did 80 lb finger curls … :eek: ] One poor officer had a permanent bruise on his forehead, he was 6’6. I have absolutely no idea how these poor guys fit into the racks to sleep!

Although there was a guy in HM13 [helicopter mine squadron] who was in on a waiver, he was small enough they could shove him into places in helicopters to do repairs without having to take off cowlings :smiley:

Ex-submariner here.

We had plenty of big guys on board. I kinda think that if size were an issue, they woulda paid more attention to it in the past. Not an issue.

The privacy thing is barely an issue. Sleeping quarters are plenty private and it would be easy to carve out a separate area for women, especially on an SSBN. Bathrooms are a bit more of a problem, but not insurmountable, I imagine.

For me, it comes down the whole man/woman interaction thing. If they can make it work on a ship, they can make it work on a sub. No difference.

Indeed, once the berthing details are worked out, all you have left are subjective morale/discipline considerations. Captain’s Mast or Court-Martial can do wonders to keep people behaving properly, and if the Missus back at port gets jealous she must remember that transferring to a shore billet or leaving for civvy street would just put her man in contact with vastly greater numbers of other women.

I’ve been long in favor of letting anyone into any post/billet for which they can meet the physical and mental standards. If a woman meets the physical and mental requirements for submariner, catapult crew, tank/artillery loader, or sapper, then go ahead by all means.

will they evacuate the preggers ladies out of submarines in wartime by helicopter, like they do from ships now? Or will they have an onboard abortion clinic?

If some of them suddenly get pregnant just before deployment, will they be replaced with extra men who will be trained and kept in reserve just for this purpose?

What if a man gets appendicitis, or cancer?!

Oh my god, we should just not put men or women on submarines!

It actually looks like a Dry Deck Shelter with a Swimmer (or SEAL) Delivery Vehicle. An SDV is the forerunner to ASDS.

Having been on a couple submarines, I don’t see privacy as an issue. And I have a similar question to code_grey: if a sailor gets out of line and his nuts get crushed by a swift knee to the groin, will they have to evacuate the man by helicopter, or will they just shoot him out of a torpedo tube?

Cool, thanks!

SSBNs (the ones I was on, anyway) have a rule that they never break patrol for anything. They even had a place to put dead bodies on ice. Dunno if they actually kept to that promise though.

Would there be any advantages to having all female crews?

BTW, I really appreciate the attitude of most of the men who have responded to this question. Damn. We all have come such a long way in the last forty years.

I can’t speak to any other department, but I’d be a little concerned about going to an all female Engineering crew. Wikipedia claims that women were going back to NNPS starting around 1994/1995. I don’t know how accurate that might be. That does mean that the women in the engineering field won’t have in depth experience on the S6G, S8G or S9G plants aboard subs. This could probably be mitigated with some specialized training for an otherwise qualified candidate, but I suspect that would raise hackles, and foster the impression of lowering the standards to meet the goal of having the all female crew.

Moving someone from the carriers to the subs would already be raising hackles within the submarine community. Doing so for LCPO slots would be a particularly bad idea, I think.

This is not a permanent bar to the idea of an all-female crew, but I think it is a real one to the idea of an all-female crew at this time. And the idea of making an all-female crew seems like it would be a step back, if it were something to use as a goal for the future. I’d rather see the Navy learn to deal with mixed crews without the sort of frictions people are concerned about. (Or that I saw when we had some females embarked aboard my ship.)

But let me make it clear this is all just conjecture and opinion on my part. Someone more current with the fleet may be to offer a better answer than mine.

As far as tender sensibilities and all that, you guys kidding? Do you think the type of woman who wants to serve on a sub is a delicate flower? Like she’d get a case of the vapors at seeing a half naked dude or something.

The possibility of rape is real. It’s happened before and will continue to happen as long as women serve. I would hope women who sign up would keep this as a possibility in the back of their minds, especially after so many well publicized cases. If they still want to still do it, well, why stop them? It’s up to the services to better police their own. But really, as long as men and women live together, whether in a city or on a sub or in a base or on a lunar colony in 200 years, men will rape women.

The only argument that makes sense to me for not allowing women to serve in combat positions is that if you ever get into an actual war (and not these dinky little border terror wars) that having tens to hundreds of thousands of young women die would be like eating your seed corn. I can see that being true for a small nation, but I think one the size of the U.S. would be able to absorb the demographic shock. Then again, a small country probably would need to muster all the forces it could anyway, so even that doesn’t really apply. I don’t accept the argument, mind, but it does make you wonder how long the U.S. would stomach thousands of women getting slaughtered along with the men.