Women in Submarines

July 12, 1999

Talk show hosts all over the country have said that the Navy has lost its mind. Now I won't go that far, but you do have to question the wisdom of the Navy putting women on submarines. Now I know that's not really what's happened, but I think that's where we're headed.

This summer, for the first time, the Navy is allowing female ROTC students to spend two nights aboard a ballistic-missile submarine with its 155-man crew. In the past, female students were restricted to day trips.

If this policy change isn't evidence enough of mixed-sex submarines, consider the recent statements by the Navy Secretary. This month he seemed to chide the submarine community for operating "a white-male preserve" and even threatened to withhold resources if the submarine community didn't change its ways. Sex integration is coming, even to submarines.

Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness says "The submarine force is being targeted for really harmful social change here for no particular reason." Up until now the Navy's fleet of 62 submarines seemed immune to the Pentagon's push to put women in virtually every support and combat job. A submarine's compact quarters, lack of privacy, and months underwater make it unsuitable for mixing young men and women. Submarines are also difficult to modify for mixed-sex missions, costing at least $1 million per vessel just for a modicum of changes.

I believe that the problems the Navy has already had with women on ships (pregnancies, jealousy, breakdown of morale) will be magnified on submarines. This new policy from the Navy is just a disaster waiting to happen. Two years ago when the Clinton administration opened combat ships and aircraft to women, problems arose. But we haven't even begun to see the problems that will result from putting women in submarines.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.