Twelve submariners are facing serious penalties as the investigation continues looking into the alleged use of a cell phone to secretly capture video of female officers in the shower.
Submarines are among the last of the Navy’s commands to be integrated. All other types of sea-going vessels have already mixed genders. But because of the privacy concerns due to tight quarters aboard submarines, which can remain submerged for months at a time, these naval vessels only began gender integration in 2011. For now, only temporary assigned Supply Corps and nuclear trained female officers have embarked on submarines.
The privacy concerns that Navy officials were worried about do hold some weight after the actions of a dozen petty officers on the USS Wyoming (SSBN-742).
Four females were temporarily assigned to the sub for the Wyoming’s deployments in the fall of 2013 and spring of 2014. They had separate berthing quarters, but shared the same bathroom facilities as male officers. Policy advised the women to post signs outside the door to indicate when the showers were being used by female officers.
Only one sailor is alleged to have used a cell phone to secretly record videos of three of four female officers while they were in the changing area of the shower room. The others are suspected of distributing the videos to each other via cell phone text messages. It is not believed that the videos were ever posted on the internet.
It is a serious violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) to film/record someone in the shower. The victims, and other females, Navy-wide, may have a hard time trusting their male shipmates again. Trust, and the ability to work together as a team, are essential on a naval warship.
Despite the setback caused by these twelve petty officers, Navy officials intend to continue full speed ahead with the integration of women aboard U.S. Navy submarines.
The first female officer reported for duty as part of regular crew on submarine for the first time this year, onboard the U.S.S. Minnesota (SSN-783). Two more women are expected to report on the Minnesota by the end of January, 2015, and three female officers are expected to join the crew of the U.S.S. Virginia (SSN-774) this spring.
As for the twelve petty officers, the investigation of their case by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) has been completed, and military lawyers are reviewing how to proceed with prosecution.
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Military Connection: Submariners Face Steep Charges for Shower Video: By Debbie Gregory