Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel meets with service members at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga., on Wednesday. He spoke to a group of female submarine officers during the visit and toured a ballistic-missile sub. (Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz/Air Force)
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NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE KINGS BAY, GA. — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with 15 female submarine officers earlier this week to hear about the progress of the undersea force’s integration, hull by hull and class by class.
As the Navy prepares to integrate enlisted women into submarine billets in coming years, Hagel said during a Wednesday visit here that he wanted to meet with these officers to hear about how the integration is affecting their personal and professional lives.
Women began integrating into seven submarine crews back in late 2011. There are now 14 crews with women on three Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines and four guided-missile subs.
The Navy next will integrate women into four Virginia-class submarine crews, two in 2015 and two more in 2016.
In a DoD News television interview Wednesday, one female officer said mixed-gender subs made little difference in performing the mission.
“The transition has been very smooth,” Lt. Marquette Leveque said.
Leveque was assigned to the ballistic-missile submarine Wyoming in November 2011 and was able to “hit the ground running on Day 1,” she said.
“It took [male sailors] a few weeks to get used to female voices on submarines,” Leveque said, “but I think that was one of the biggest differences.”