Navy chief becomes first woman to earn silver submarine pin
By David B. Larter
PUGET SOUND, Wash. (August 2, 2016) Chief Culinary Specialist Dominique Saavedra, assigned to USS Michigan (SSGN 727)(Blue), is pinned with her enlisted submarine qualification during a ceremony at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Saavedra the first female enlisted Sailor to earn the "dolphins." (U.S. Navy photo my Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kenneth G. Takada/RELEASED)
For the first time, a woman has earned the silver dolphin pin that distinguishes a fully trainedr submariner. A woman is wearing the silver dolphins.
The years-long push to fully integrate women on submarines hit another major milestone Tuesday when Chief Culinary Specialist Dominique Saavedra's personal achievement also made history as she became the first woman to don the (CQ) was pinned with her enlisted submarine qualification insignia during a Tuesday ceremony at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington state.
Saavedra, who is getting ready to deploy with the crew of the guided-missile submarine Michigan, had to lean in to get her quals done, embarking on board the deployed guided-missile sub Ohio to get signed off.
"I couldn't be more proud to wear the 'dolphins,'" Saavedra said in a Navy release. "To have earned the respect of my fellow submariners is more rewarding than expected. I am honored to serve as a qualified member in such a prestigious community."
Saavedra declined media interview requests through a spokesman.
The Michigan will be the first sub to deploy with its full crew of enlisted women, said Submarine Group 9Nine spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Michael Smith.
Michigan is currently undergoing modifications in the shipyards that include accommodations for enlisted women, the release said.
Earning the pin is one of the foremost goals of a new arrival to the submarine force, typically known as a "nub." It takes months of study on all of the submarine's systems and damage control methods, culminating in a qualification board.
Saavedra’s accomplishment comes just over four years after the first women officers earned were pinned with their gold dolphins. Women the release said. officers began serving on missile subs in 2011 and on Virginia-class attack boats in 2015.
Saavedra's skipper said the pinning ceremony showed that women were going to be key to the success of submarines in the future.
"Chief Saavedra's accomplishment reinforces the fact that there are very capable women who have the talent and desire to succeed in the submarine force," Capt. Joe Turk said. "Drawing from talented individuals like Chief Saavedra helps us maintain the world's best submarine force."
The second group of enlisted women are currently in the training pipeline to serve on the guided missile sub Florida out of Kings Bay, Georgia. The third round of selection will be announced in October, a recruiting drive for women to serve on the Ohio, based in Bangor, Washington.
The goal is to have enlisted women make up about 20 percent of each crew, said Smith, the SUBGRUSub Group 9 spokesman. For the guided missile boats, that means a goal 27 E-6 and below, and two chiefs, he said.
The living space modifications include separate nine-person bunk rooms for E-6-and-below women with a separate head and shower and quarters for female chiefs including a separate head. a separate quarters for E-7-and-above women within the chiefs' quarters, along with a separate head for women's chiefs. Women officers have separate state rooms, but must share the head with male crewmembers (by putting up a sign when women are using it)te facilities.
About David B. Larter
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.