The next phase of the Silent Service's five-year integration effort has arrived as women report to the the attack submarine force for the first time.

The first female officer has reported to the attack sub Minnesota, a submarine official said, Stars and Stripes, the first of a cadre of six that will start the integration effort in the elite attack boat force.

Two more women are expected to join the Minnesota, which left Naval Station Norfolk, Va., on Jan. 8 for its permanent home port at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn. The boat will be assigned to Commander, Submarine Squadron 4.

Another group of women — two nuclear-trained submarine officers and a supply lieutenant there to act as a mentor — will report to the Groton, Conn.-based Virginia.

The first woman to report to Minnesota was the supply officer, said Submarine Force Atlantic spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tommy Crosby.

In addition, officials expect to announce two Virginia-class attack subs to get mixed-gender crews in the coming years.

This is all prep toward the ultimate goal: bringing enlisted women into the force, which could come as soon as the end of the year -- faster than the previous goal of 2016.

"We're expecting integration for our enlisted female sailors to begin in late 2015," Crosby said.

The service has begun recruiting early and mid-career sailors with the goal of having women make-up 20 percent of the enlisted crew on seven of the 18 Ohio-class boomers.

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