Kayla Sax and the Female Navy Submariners
How many women are active-duty Navy: 52,446
Until now, how long the Navy's submarines have been staffed by men: Over a century
How many women are entering the Navy's submarine officer training program this summer: 24
This summer, 24 women will enter the Navy's submarine officer training program, breaking one of the last gender barriers in the military. For over a century, the U.S. Navy's submarines have been staffed exclusively by men.
Among them will be Naval Academy graduate Midshipman Kayla Sax of Richland, Washington. She is a Systems Engineering Honors Major at the United States Naval Academy and a part of the Academy's Trident Scholar program. She looks forward to the challenges of leadership in a close-knit community. As an engineering major, Kayla specializes in nuclear energy and recently won a Gates Foundation scholarship to study at Cambridge.
The courageous women leading our nation's military into a new era includes Tabitha Gant of Bowie, Maryland; Abigail Gesecki of Luzerne, Colorado; Elizabeth Hudson of Plymouth, Massachusetts; Peggy LeGrand, of Amarillo, Texas; Rachel Lessard of Newburyport, Massachusetts, Kristin Lyles of Fairfax Station, Virginia; Laura Martindale of Roselle, Illinois; Marquette Ried of Fort Collins, Colorado; Misty Webster of Wesley Chapel, Florida and Jessica Wilcox of Honesdale, Pennsylvania.
The U.S. Navy's first female submarine officers will begin their duty assignments in early 2012.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates formally presented a letter to Congress in Febuary notifying them of the Department of Navy's desire to reverse current policy of prohibiting submarine service to women. "There are extremely capable women in the Navy who have the talent and desire to succeed in the submarine force," said the Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy. "Enabling them to serve in the submarine community is best for the submarine force and our Navy. We literally could not run the Navy without women today."
Currently, women make up 15 percent of the active duty Navy for a total 52,446 women. Integrating women into the submarine force increases the talent pool for officer accessions and subsequently the force's overall readiness, ensuring that the U.S. Submarine Force will remain the worlds most capable for ensuing decades.
"Today, women earn about half of all science and engineering bachelor's degrees," said Vice Adm. John J. Donnelly, Commander, Naval Submarine Forces. "There are capable women who have the interest, talent, and desire to succeed in the submarine force.”