Brits Considering Letting Women On Submarines
Vigilis covered this earlier, but I wanted to jump into the discussion on rumors the Royal Navy is considering designing their replacement for the Vanguard-class SSBNs such that they can accomodate mixed gender crews. From this Daily Mail article:
The next generation of Britain's nuclear submarines are being designed to carry female sailors as the Ministry of Defence is considering scrapping a long-standing ban on women submariners.Other nations have already accepted women into submarining, and at least for the Aussies, it looks like this hasn't fixed their "manning" shortages. Although a civilian advisory panel at the end of the Clinton Administration recommended women be allowed on U.S. submarines, the idea really hasn't gotten anywhere in the last 8 years; it's still enough of an outrageous idea to be a source of the New York Times April Fool's joke this year. (OK, so it was really the guys from SubSim who came up with that, but it's still not a mainstream idea.) The Brits are at least smart enough to recognize that a submarine would have to be designed from the ground up to accommodate women. I wrote earlier about the problems you'd have if you attempt to put women on a submarine that's not designed for them:
Defence officials confirmed that the current rules barring the Royal Navy's 3,700 female sailors from serving in the submarine branch are 'under review', and said design work on a £20billion new fleet of nuclear-missile submarines was taking into account 'the possibility of women serving on submarines in the future.'
The Navy is facing a shortage of suitably-qualified engineers willing to serve for months at a time beneath the waves, and officials believe legal challenges based on gender equality laws could eventually make the current policy untenable, forcing them to adopt mixed crews.
The biggest problem I see is that either you'd have men and women in much closer quarters that you do on surface ships, or you'd end up with empty racks in the "female only" berthing areas when people stay behind... not very good for morale when most of the crew is hot-racking. Plus, which head becomes the female head? And do you need to install an extra head in the goat locker and wardroom areas? Or just have a sign you put up depending on the gender of the occupant? (That's what we did when we had female riders -- except for middie ops, when boats will turn one head over to them for the night.)We all know that sometime this century the U.S. will put women on submarines; hopefully, though, it'll be done the right way, and not rushed into half-assed. The question of the day is: Do you think the new Administration will try to rush half-assed into putting women on submarines?
Plus, we all know what "feminine products" would do to the san pump...