One of the major fields of military service from which women are still excluded is working on America’s fleet of submarines. But via Robert Farley it seems that chief of staff Admiral Mike Mullen thinks we should change that. Why aren’t women allowed on subs in the first place?
Opponents of lifting the ban have argued for decades that space is at a premium on submarines. To accommodate privacy needs of females, including separate berthing and “heads” or toilet/shower facilities, would be “prohibitively expensive,” Navy has argued. Watch duty, bunk management, extra supplies and incidents of fraternization and harassment would complicate submarine life, according to one study done for the Navy in 1994.
This seems, at best, like an argument for single-sex submarines not for keeping women off submarines altogether. In general, my understanding is that women, being smaller, are actually generally better-suited for submarine work than are men. In Australia, where women do serve on submarines, the main practical problem that seems to have arisen is male submarine commanders making inappropriate remarks to the press leading to minor political scandal.