The USS Michigan, stationed at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, will be the first submarine to allow enlisted women to serve onboard.
It’s part of the Navy's plan to have women perform 20 percent of the jobs on mixed gender subs by 2020. The Navy began allowing female officers on subs three years ago.
Practically speaking there will have to be some modifications onboard the Ohio-class, nuclear-powered guided missile submarine to accommodate more women. That includes creating a nine space berthing area where female sailors can sleep. The chief petty officers quarters will be modified to make a restroom and shower.
Lt. Commander Brian Bandura said allowing enlisted woman is the next step in the Navy’s plan to fully integrate its submarine force. He said senior enlisted woman will get on board first to help ensure a smooth transition. “What they can do is go on board and kind of find their place. And then what they will be able to do is mentor the junior enlisted folks who will come on board later on," he said.
The naval base has 27 female officers stationed there. Woman can apply for jobs on the Michigan beginning in April. They’re scheduled to come aboard by the end of this fiscal year.