Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rant #201: Going Down With Female Sailors In Submarines

The Pentagon is going ahead and looking into lifting the decades old ban prohibiting women from serving aboard Navy submarines.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates notified Congress in a letter that he signed this past Friday that the Navy intends to repeal the ban on women sailors on submarines, and Congress now has 30 days to discuss the matter.

Why have female sailors been banned in the first place?

Well, I think it is kind of obvious. Submarines are sort of a makeshift city serving in the depths of the ocean. There are very, very tight quarters down there, which means women must be segregated from men, again for obvious reasons.

But the thinking now is that if women could serve in leadership roles in Iraq and Afghanistan--and for that matter, in every branch of each of the services--the time might have come for them to be serving in submarines.

Proposing it and doing it are two different things. If female sailors get this right, then existing submarines must be retrofitted to accommodate them. They must have separate quarters, separate showers and bathrooms, etc. Setting these things up on a submarine that has already been built--and which already has tight quarters--looks to me to be a nightmare.

The current proposal is to retrofit larger submarines for females if this initiative passes. I don't think that that is a good idea.

A better idea would be that for here on in, newer submarines are equipped this way. Thus, the program can take its time to take hold, and when it does, there won't be any problems as far as living conditions inside the submarines.

I don't know when the next submarine is going to be built, so maybe this isn't possible. Maybe existing submarines must be retrofitted, because new submarines are not coming down the pike anytime soon.

I just harken back to the TV show "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," and the tight quarters that were so adeptly shown on this program.

I can't imagine the Seaview to be retrofitted, although you know that if the show was ever revived for current TV, you know it would be.

I would also expect everyone--both males and females--to act accordingly while on a submarine, but you know, if this was a TV show, you just know that there would be onboard romances and other things to stir interest.

But this isn't a TV show.

I think it can be done, but it might take years to put in place.

I think Congress should really think about this and give it its full attention.

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