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All Female Submarine Crews

Posted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:17 pm
by STS66
O.K., I've waited and given it some thought. I've rejected my reactionary, knee-jerk responses. It's come down to this: Every non-qual who ever walked aboard a boat fell in with a crew numbering hundreds of patrols on a variety of classes. That collection of "salts" kept the ship from harm and operationally effective while the newbies were learning how not to kill themselves and their shipmates. But back when it all began, there were sailors taking submarines to sea with little or no experience and the results were often tragic. But as the experience base developed, the safety and effectiveness improved to the state we have today. When the Navy deploys these two submarines with the all-female crews, where will that wealth of experience come from? This is not a reflection on the female sailor's skills but the total of her experience. I submit that it would take at least a decade or more to develop enough female submariners to totally "person" two submarines with the experience the job demands. And that assumes a high level of retention. Chat that up with some of our skimmer brethren. Anyway, I'm sure the CNO and his staff have a plan. I hope the cost is acceptable.
R, Jim Eldridge

Re: All Female Submarine Crews

Posted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:46 pm
by Keith Holman
I follow your logic, Jim and certainly don't want to detract in any way from the wealth of experience that preceded me going to sea. However, much of the improved safety record is the result of great changes in the vessels themselves which does not care about gender of the crew.

There are certainly a number of computerized functions that don't require operator experience (unless something doesn't work as designed or is manually overridden). Training is certainly more realistic than it was back in the day as well.

Re: All Female Submarine Crews

Posted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:31 pm
by STS66
Keith, I'd like to think that's true and I certainly believe the technology is a great leap forward. But every time we have relied on technology providing a safety buffer, "Murphy" has jumped in. Titanic was "unsinkable." The machine gun was going to eliminate warfare. The A-bomb was going to do the same. The Space shuttle was the culmination of all our technological prowess; lost two of those. Submarines arer a lot like flying. Anybody can do it when everything goes right. But when our technology fails us, and it will, somebody has to know what valves to throw. Thinking back on the HP Air Bank #4 casualty we had on the initial underway from Electric Boat. I'd venture to say that casualty had never been drilled because no one envisioned it could happen. Only an intrinsic knowledge of the systems enabled the response to recover. Oh well, I hope you get to say, "I told you so."
R, Jim

Re: All Female Submarine Crews

Posted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 11:16 pm
by Keith Holman
Very valid points. I'm not sure what my personal final thoughts on it are.

I do know (rightfully so) that many of the more seasoned folks were very concerned when we came out of the yards after refueling/missile conversion (that was supposed to last 18 months but was closer to 30) that there was no blue/gold crews, just a couple of green ones since so many had rotated off.

The success of such a venture (which has been under planning/ consideration since the late 1970's that I know of in one form or another) will be dependent on luck --thankfully the good Lord above looks after many who need it-- and the details of how we prepare the crews to man (staff?) their new assignments.

Re: All Female Submarine Crews

Posted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:31 pm
by cdradams
When I was doing midshipmen Ops Prior to taking Madison around for Decom I posed this question of an all Female crew to a group of Female midshipmen from the Naval Acadamy. They were not supportive of an all female crew. They didn't give very many details as to why not but definitely didn't think an all female crew would work. I think the CNO was proposing a mixed crew in his announcement similar to what is being done on skimmers.

Re: All Female Submarine Crews

Posted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 5:37 am
by zphor4jc
All great points above and it would be interesting to know why the women would be against an all female crew.

Experience going into a mixed crew might prevent casualties or even help recover from them once they happen, but I do not believe you can remove the temptations that arise from service men and women serving in close quarters no matter how professional they are and how close you watch them. On skimmers, it works okay to a point. There are still the miraculous pregnancies that happen even when none of the crew are getting busy with the opposite sex on the same cruise. I am not to sure how a pregnancy would be handled on a submarine heading into the bay of Murmansk or the Sea of Japan, but I can bet they wouldn't just pull up and drop them off.

CDR Adams, good to see you online!

MM1 Roeland