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Navy names 4 subs to carry first women

Associated Press / October 22, 2010

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WASHINGTON — The Navy selected four submarines yesterday to carry the first women serving aboard what has been the last class of military vessels off-limits to them.

Twenty-four female officers are in training for submarine service and are expected to join their boats in December 2011.

The Navy selected the USS Wyoming and USS Georgia, based in Kings Bay, Ga., and the USS Maine and USS Ohio, with their home port in Bangor, Wash.

The Navy announced in the spring that it was lifting the ban on women serving aboard subs. They had been barred on the theory that the close quarters and long deployments common to these vessels were unsuitable for a coed crew.

The 560-foot nuclear-powered ballistic- or cruise-missile submarines chosen yesterday are big by submarine standards, allowing the Navy greater flexibility in designing accommodations for the women.

The initial class of women will serve in teams of three, all sharing a stateroom, said Lieutenant Rebecca Rebarich, a Navy spokeswoman. The lone bathroom for officers will bear a reversible sign, letting men know that it’s in use by women and vice versa.

They will be divided up so that women are assigned to each sub’s two rotating crews.

Limiting women to officer slots lets the Navy, for a time at least, sidestep the more vexing and cost-prohibitive problem of modifying subs to have separate bunks and bathrooms for enlisted men and women.

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