Future submarines will be built with separate quarters and bathing facilities, but the current submarine force was not designed for mixed-sex crews.
Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness said that during her work on a presidential commission on the subject, she took part in a conference call with a large group of submariners’ wives.
“They were overwhelmingly opposed to gender integration on subs, but their primary concern was not male involvement with female sailors,” Ms. Donnelly told Inside the Ring.
“It was safety and distractions that would detract from safety. That would include forced evacuations caused by health issues unique to women, including pregnancies discovered in the middle of the ocean — an issue that was not revealed until a few years later.”
The Navy Times reported in July that an affair between a Navy chief and a female Naval Academy midshipman on the USS Nebraska, a ballistic-missile submarine, involved a cover-up of the affair.
Former submariner John Mason said he thinks most submariners, and not just wives, are opposed to the policy change.
“It is my firm opinion, and that of many others with experience in the submarine community, that this policy change was politically motivated with little concern for the many effects, mostly negative, that the change would have on submarine mission effectiveness and operational readiness,” Mr. Mason said in a letter to the Navy Times.
“Additionally, the Navy’s inability to get a handle on the ongoing issue of fraternization only highlights the short-sightedness the Navy showed in making this policy change.”
Navy Cmdr. Monica Rouselow, a spokeswoman for submarine forces said: “We’ve had women integrated on four of our submarines for 10 months now and have heard of no concerns from spouses, male or female spouses.”
China pressures kim
A Western diplomatic source told Inside the Ring that the recent visit to North Korea by Wang Jiarui, head of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Department, was the first meeting between a senior foreign official and the new North Korean maximum leader, Kim Jong-un.
Mr. Wang was in North Korea from July 30 to Aug. 2 and, according to the source, is believed to have laid down a clear line for Mr. Kim: no nuclear tests, no long-range missile firings and no military provocations against South Korea until after China finishes its major leadership change this fall.
China’s current President Hu Jintao is set to give up power to Vice President Xi Jingping at the major party meeting.
North Korea’s post-Kim Jong-il regime is in the process of consolidating power and recently fired a top general.
Mr. Wang is the key communist official in charge of North Korea relations, and his dispatch to Pyongyang followed reported tensions earlier this year over a North Korean missile test and North Korea’s detention of Chinese fishermen.