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