WASHINGTON, July 9, 2014 —
Having female officers serve on submarines increases the pool of capable people who can do the job, and “diversity is at the heart of our strength,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today.
The secretary made his comments during a visit to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in southeastern Georgia, where he met with female submariners. The base is home to some of the Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic and guided-missile submarines.
In a DoD News television interview this morning, one of the officers said mixing the genders aboard subs has had little impact.
“The transition has been very smooth,” Navy Lt. Marquette Leveque said.
As one of the first female sub officers, Leveque said, she was assigned to the USS Wyoming in November 2011 with two other women she’d previously met during deployment. They were able to “hit the ground running on day one,’” 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.”
The Defense Department advised Congress in 2010 it planned to do away with the ban on women on submarines.
“I qualified the same as my male counterparts and do the same job,” Leveque said. “As long as I do that, it’s been equal all the way around.”
Noting plans to also have enlisted women serve aboard submarines, the lieutenant said she foresees another easy transition in adding women to the ranks of jobs that were once forbidden to them.
“As long as they’re willing and able to do the job of their male counterparts, they’ll be fine,” she said. “In the Navy, all sailors are treated equally, regardless of any diversity, including gender.”
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)