- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 28, 2011

The U.S. Navy is sailing into politically correct waters, sometimes at a speed too fast for the Obama administration to keep up.

Whether it is policies on gays and women, or naming ships after social activists, the Navy is charting a course that has some “old salts” worried.

“It’s pretty dire,” said John Howland, a 1964 U.S. Naval Academy graduate who manages a web site on naval issues called USNA-At-Large.

“We’re back to ‘H.M.S. Pinafore,’ ” he added, a reference to the comic opera about English shipboard life. “The leadership of the military is pretty much politically correct kind of stuff. You like to think that we’re approaching hitting bottom, but these people are not through with us yet.”

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a Democrat and former Mississippi governor, has embraced assigning women to the cramp underwater quarters of submarines, including enlisted females on attack subs. The first female officers are due to report aboard larger ballistic missile submarines this fall.

In addition, Mr. Mabus has left open the possibility of putting women in the decidedly all-male and physically challenging world of Navy SEALs, like the ones who killed Osama bin laden.

“It’s my notion that women should have the same opportunities as men in the Navy,” Mr. Mabus told the Navy Times, an independent newspaper.

“The only reason I’m being a little hesitant for the SEALs is some of the physical things you’ve got to go through to be a SEAL.”

Earlier this month, Mr. Mabus riled some conservatives by reaching out to Hispanics and naming a supply ship after union activist Cesar Chavez, who served in the Navy.

Mabus is an unequivocal disaster,” Mr. Howland said. “He’s done nothing but the straight social engineering play book. Women on submarines is a looming disaster that is sure to come. He’s done the ship naming things.”

Mr. Mabus defended his selection.

“His service was difficult, because Cesar Chavez faced a segregated Navy, but that challenge like others he faced in his life, helped forge the leader he became,” he said at the naming ceremony in San Diego May 18.

“His example blazed a path for subsequent generations. His example will live through this ship. He will continue to inspire young Americans to do what is right.”

Mr. Chavez was a champion of better working conditions for farm laborers. He enlisted in the Navy in 1946 at age 17. He later called it “the worst two years of my life,” according to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, who saw action in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine officer, believes Mr. Mabus made a political decision.

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