The Navy Is Designing Its New Subs To Be More Convenient To Women

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Tugs guide the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) to its berth at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor after the completion of Louisiana's latest strategic deterrent patrol.
U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Ed Early

The Navy is designing the first U.S. submarines built specifically to accommodate female crewmembers — and the new boats will take into account the varying body types, heights, and builds of its sailors. After decades of storied silent, deep operations, engineers evidently unfurled a measuring tape in a sub and realized things get a bit awkward if you’re not quite 5-foot-9.


The redesign includes obvious changes — more privacy doors, gender-specific heads, and separate sleeping and bathing areas for men and women — but there are other, subtler changes in the works, too, according to the Associated Press.

Some of these include lowering overhead valves, making them easier to turn (which is probably appreciated by everyone), and installing steps near the triple-high bunks and stacked laundry machines.

Related: Life On A Submarine: Raunchy, Cramped, And Occasionally Smells Like Sh*t »

Like the added steps and easier-to-turn valves, not all the new changes are gender-specific; many are simply based on body size and shape. You don’t need a penis to appreciate that something is easier to reach and easier to turn. Seats in the control rooms of ballistic missile subs will be adjustable, so everyone can easily touch each display and joystick.

"We have a clean sheet of paper, so from the ground up, we'll optimize for both men and women," Brian Wilson, Electric Boat director of the new ballistic-missile sub program told the AP.

The Navy lifted its ban on women aboard submarines in 2010, beginning with officers. Today, roughly 80 female officers and 50 enlisted women are serving aboard subs, but those numbers are expected to increase well into the hundreds over the next several years, notes AP.

For the time being, the service is retrofitting existing submarines with extra doors and designated washrooms for its female sailors, but Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut, is developing a whole new class of ballistic-missile submarines and redesigning the Navy’s Virginia-class fast-attack subs with body measurements from both men and women.

The first vessel to be constructed with these new features, the USS New Jersey, is expected to reach the Navy by 2021 — and with it, the Navy will field its first crew of submariners who don’t need a boost to get to some vitally important pipe.

(DoD photo)

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The top Pentagon watchdog has announced it would be investigating all deaths of recruits during initial military training over the past five years, the agency said in a statement last week.

In a Dec. 4 memo, the DoD Inspector General said it was changing the scope of an investigation it had opened on Nov. 18 that was titled Evaluation of Medical Resources and Guidance to Trainers at Recruit Training Centers in the DoD. Its new title, the IG said, would be Evaluation of Medical Protocols and Deaths of Recruits in the DoD.

While its original objective of looking into the medical resources available to recruits would remain the same, the IG said it would now also review all deaths of recruits at military basic training facilities between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2019.

The move comes in the wake of several deaths at basic training facilities over the past year. In April, the Navy announced a safety review after two prospective sailors died at its recruit training facility in Great Lakes, Illinois. Seaman Recruit Kelsey Nobles died after a fitness test that month; Seaman Recruit Kierra Evans also died after the run portion of the fitness test.

In September, an 18-year-old soldier died following a "medical emergency" before a training drill at Fort Jackson, S.C.

Meanwhile, the Marine Corps has disciplined more than 20 Marines over misconduct at its San Diego boot camp since 2017, according to The Washington Post. The action came in the wake of a scandal involving the death of a 20-year-old Muslim recruit named Raheel Siddiqui, who fell 40 feet to his death at the Parris Island training facility, where he and other Muslims were targeted for abuse by their drill instructor (the instructor was later sentenced to 10 years in prison at court-martial).

According to the IG, Pentagon investigators will visit all DoD recruit training facilities and interview personnel from each service's education and training commands. They will also speak with personnel at military medical facilities, the Defense Health Agency, and those assigned at the Military Entrance Processing Command, which does the initial intake for civilians going into military service.

Photo: U.S. Army/Spc. Valencia McNeal

The number of substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct against senior Army officials increased this year, according to an Army Inspector General report recently presented to service leaders and obtained by Task & Purpose.

The document, which lays out broad details of IG investigations undertaken in fiscal year 2019, looks at investigations specific to senior Army officials, which includes "promotable colonels, general officers and senior executives," according to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Emanuel Ortiz.

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Marines of India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion on the day before their graduation at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego on August 8, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Zachary Beatty)

Editor's Note: This article by Hope Hodge Seck originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

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Command Sgt. Maj. Ted L. Copeland, the Command Sergeant Major, U.S. Army Reserve and his escort team land at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, Indiana, May 13, 2019, during Guardian Response 19 (Army photo/Sgt. Fred Brown)

An Indiana National Guard soldier died Saturday at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, located about 75 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

Cpl. Larry Litton Jr., of Martinsville, was 30 years old and an assistant squad leader with the 384th Military Police Company when he was found unresponsive at the facility.

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