Since the creation of the United States submarine force in the year 1900, no woman has ever been able to serve on board a submarine, despite the integration of women in general into the Navy and the fact that women have been serving on military surface ships since 1993. A submarine’s cramped quarters and the fact that its crew will need to serve at sea for months at a time in such accommodations have thus far hampered the consideration of allowing women on subs.
It looks like that is going to change, however, according to a feature on the Los Angeles Times. The Navy has expressed its intention to change its existing policy, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has notified Congress about it. Congress, in turn, will have thirty days to object to the Navy’s plans. While nothing is set in stone, the policy may go into effect as early as mid-April – assuming that neither the House nor the Senate makes a move to block the changes.
And congressional officials reveal that lawmakers are not likely to stand in its way. If anyone would try to block this new policy, it would have to be the Republicans – but they are at this time too busy trying to block the move to allow gays to serve openly in the military that they “would probably not expend time and effort on the issue.”
The Defense Secretary mentioned in its letter that the Navy will be employing a “phased approach” towards this shift in policy, initially allowing women to serve on larger submarines.