Enlisted women will join the submarine force in 2016 and recruiting for the first integrated crews is now underway.

Navy personnel officials outlined the plans and rules for female enlisted sailors, E-1 through E-8, to volunteer for the Silent Service, in three naval messages released Wednesday that make formal the next phase of the integration effort begun five years ago. n a series of three NavAdmin messages released today,

The move begins the is the next step in full integration of women into the previously all male submarine force, with the integration taking cues from the surface fleet's integration decades before.

Among the lessons is the important of having strong female leaders in place before junior enlisted women arrive to provide them with a will provide them a strong support network within the chain of command.

The message says that The first enlisted women to hit the submarine force will be seasoned chief and senior chiefs petty officers recruited from five ratings — information systems technician, yeoman, culinary specialist, logistics specialist and independent duty corpsman.

As with female officers, enlisted women will start their integration on guided- and ballistic-missile submarines. Two crews will be integrated in 2016, with another two to four crews added each year through 2021. The move is dependent on getting enough volunteers from all eligible enlisted pay grades to make each crew viable.

Officers began serving this month aboard Virginia-class attack boats. But the arrival of female enlisted on those subs is slated for 2020, when new Virginia-class subs are delivered that will be built to accommodate enlisted women in berthing. , that won't happen until 2020, when new Virginia class attack subs have been built from the start to accommodate enlisted females.

"CPOs with these ratings will be chosen to bring their current expertise and leadership skills aboard submarines quickly, which will be essential in the follow-on integration of junior female sailors," Vice Adm. Bill Moran, the chief of naval personnel, said in the initial message. "CPOs will be selected from these ratings for conversion and assignment in submarines until their important leadership role can be filled by the normal advancement process inside the submarine force."

As with all sub sailors, these chiefs will first attend basic enlisted submarine school and any needed rate-specific training prior to reporting to their first boat.

The first female petty officers eligible for submarine duty come from 11 ratings: Eleven list of submarine ratings officials open to petty officers, E-4 through E-6, and below sailors is longer — 11 in all — sonar technician, fire control technician, machinist's mate (weapons) and (auxiliary), missile technician, information systems technician, electronics technician (navigation) and (communications), logistics specialist, yeoman and culinary specialist.

Non-designated enlisted women already in the fleet can apply for these above ratings, too, the message says.

As with the chiefs, enlisted females picked to convert into submarines will attend basic enlisted submarine school as well as any "A" and "C" needed to bring them up to speed.

The message also said that female sailors already in the nuclear power training pipeline — or those serving as junior instructors today — can also apply for submarine duty, but referred them to their career counselors for details.

Officials will also be recruiting women into the Navy for submarine duty. Concurrent with the efforts to convert enlisted females from the fleet will be recruiting new females directly from the street in all of the same ratings, including nuclear power.

Female officers began reporting to the sub force in late 2011. The first of the six female officers to join attack boat crews reported in January, with the rest expected to arrive within the next few months.

Female officers have been serving onboard guided and ballistic missile submarines since 2011. This month, the first female officers reported onboard fast attack submarines as well.

Officials insist the integration is going well, even as the effort has hit its first scandal with the disclosure that female officers aboard the effort got a black eye when it was reported in December that female women onboard the ballistic-missile submarine Wyoming were secretly filmed undressing over a year-long period and the videos were shared among as many as a dozen shipmates.in the shower and while dressing over a year-long period.

Navy officials told Navy Times last year that surveys show significant interest among enlisted women in serving aboard submarines, but said they were unsure if that interest would translate into applications.

The Navy's plan has been to integrate women into submarines from the top down and the messages show that's still the plan. That decision was based on lessons learned from the integration of women onto surface ships, which started in the 1980s with auxiliary ships and continued aboard combatant ships in the 1990s.

NAVADMIN messages released Wednesday outline eligibility rules and application guidelines for chiefs and petty officers interested in submarine duty. Chief's and above as well as E-6 and below and are available at http://www.public.navy.mil/BUPERS-NPC/REFERENCE/MESSAGES/NAVADMINS/Pages/NAVADMIN2015.aspx

Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.

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