Under the radar, the Navy has begun recruiting women for the formerly all-male submarine force. Several “scouting” seminars were held this week in San Diego.

Lt. Jennifer Carroll, the Women in Submarines coordinator at Submarine Forces Atlantic, speaks to sailors during an all-hands call at Naval Base San Diego. The Enlisted Women in Submarines Road Show visited different military bases in the San Diego area. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Emiline L. M. Senn)

The first female sailors to serve on San Diego-based subs won’t board until 2020, as a recent U-T San Diego report noted.

But the deputy commander for the Enlisted Women in Submarines Task Force made the rounds of San Diego bases Monday through Wednesday.

“It’s fantastic to see females integrated into submarines,” said Seaman Apprentice Renee Vouy, studying to be a sonar technician ­surface. “I’m excited for the opportunity to be one of the first enlisted females on a submarine.”

Capt. Rod Hutton, the deputy commander, led the Enlisted Women in Submarines Road Show, spreading the word that the submarine force is now open to female enlisted sailors from grades E­1 to E­8.

Speakers discussed how junior female sailors could convert to rates in the submarine force and the type of candidates the force is seeking. In addition, they provided insights into life aboard submarines.

Until Jan. 21, enlisted billets in the submarine force were closed to women, Hutton said.

“That policy has now changed,” he said, “and there is an opportunity for our female sailors to cross the fleet and conduct rating conversions into the submarine force.”

More than 60 female officers now serve aboard the Navy’s 76 submarines, the Navy says.

They serve aboard guided-­missile nuclear submarines and ballistic-­missile nuclear submarines. They are also slated to be integrated aboard the Virginia ­class fast-attack submarines and ones based.

In January, three officers reported aboard USS Minnesota, homeported in Groton,
Connecticut. USS Virginia, homeported in Groton, will be integrated later this year, and the Pearl Harbor-based USS Texas and USS Mississippi will be integrated in Fiscal Year 2016.

“It’s important for the Navy to incorporate females into the submarine community,” said
Command Master Chief Veronica Holliday, from the guided-­missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer. “There’s a lot of talent that female leadership and female sailors themselves bring to the table that our male counterparts aren’t aware of because the experiences have been
different.”

Phase I of female enlisted integration will begin with the SSGN and SSBN crews in Kings Bay, Georgia, and Bangor, Washington, starting in 2016 and continuing through 2021.

Phase II of the integration will begin with the Virginia­-class attack submarines in 2020, including boats based in San Diego.

“There’s an opportunity to bring in, recruit and select for conversion some immense talent and great sailors to make our submarine force and our Navy across the board stronger,” Hutton said. “We’re looking for sailors that are going to bring experience from the surface and aviation communities into the submarine ratings for tomorrow to make the submarine force stronger.”

Enlisted females who complete a non­nuclear rating conversion will attend Basic Enlisted
Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut, before arriving aboard their ship. BESS
provides screening of future submariners in adaptability and reliability and prepares sailors to pursue submarine qualifications aboard an operational submarine.

For more information about enlisted females in submarines go to this site.

— A Navy News Service release contributed to this report.

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