Table of Contents



Women In Submarines

Elaine Donnelly is President of the Center for Military Readiness, an independent public policy organization that specializes in military personnel issues. Her father served on the submarine U.S.S. Menhaden. At her website she had the following article about the insanity of putting women on submarines:


Despite frequent denials that anything is about to change, the Navy is conducting an informal test of female sailors on submarines. A group of 144 female and 218 male ROTC midshipmen, participating in 48-hour, two-night "career orientation and training" trips, are going to sea this summer on five Trident nuclear submarines.

The women will sleep in a separate 9-man compartments in the enlisted berthing areas. Each ship captain will determine arrangements for their access to shower and lavatory facilities. A switch sign may be used for periodic access by both sexes, or one of the two heads--50% of the enlisted facilities--will be reserved for the women’s use. If the women enjoy the excursion and disaster does not occur, the experiment will be declared a "success."

Military and individual civilian women have gone on single-day or longer trips on submarines, usually berthed in separate officers’ quarters. Overnight, two-day stays with substantial groups of female midshipmen are something new--and inexplicable.

For many compelling reasons, women have not been assigned to submarines in this country. Norway, Sweden, and soon Australia assign a few women to small submarine crews, but brief coastal deployments are nowhere near as demanding as American requirements. Nevertheless, in a June 3 speech before the Naval Submarine League, Navy Secretary Richard Danzig said that the admirals in attendance should prepare to get in step with the rest of society, lest they be "left behind."

Secretary Danzig noted that women are gaining power in Congress, and the sub force might lose support if it remains a "white male bastion." He praised submariners for their "god-like" ability to patrol the oceans undetected. But then he warned the silent service not to go the way of the mythological figure Narcissus, who was so enamored of himself he could not move.

Narcissus, a handsome young man, angered the gods by rejecting the love of the nymph, Echo. He fell in love with his own reflection in a pool, and eventually pined away and turned into a flower. The condescending analogy, combined with the epithetical "white male preserve" label, constitute an extraordinary affront to the submarine community.

Thus begins another cycle of sexual politics and "fem fear," a pattern of intimidation that is all-too common at the Pentagon. For civilians trying to force feminism on the military, submarines are a tempting "last frontier."

The community is vulnerable to political pressure, because of its distressing inability to keep the fleet above 50 boats. Pacific Submarine Force Commander Rear Adm. Albert H. Konetzni described the problem as "a national disaster." Feminist-leaning members of the Senate Armed Services Committee include Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME). Senator Snowe chairs the Subcommittee on Seapower, which authorizes ship procurement budgets.

Connect the dots, and the outline that emerges suggests potential capitulation. It would not be the first time that Navy leaders, at the behest of a civilian secretary, tried to curry favor with female politicians by compromising the interests of an entire service community. And the submariners didn’t even have a sex scandal.

The 1992 Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, on which I served, heard many reasons why women should not be deployed on submarines. We visited two SSN attack submarines, and chronicled many of the comments heard from officers, crew members, and Vice Adm. H. G. Chiles, then-Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. More recent findings reinforce their concerns:

1. Close quarters in a submarine, which have been compared to the inside of a clock, magnify personnel stress and friction. In a letter to the presidential commission, Adm. Chiles explained that there is little privacy, and body contact is usually unavoidable during maintenance, training drills, and any emergency: "The 688 class [SSN attack] submarine is cramped, and so close to the allowable weight margin that additional internal changes could be prohibitive."


submarines routinely "hot bunk" about 40% of the crew, which means that a single berth is used by two or three men on a rotational basis. Sailors sometimes have to sleep in noisy torpedo rooms, and desirable bunks (away from passageways) are strictly assigned by rank and/or seniority. Setting aside preferred accommodations for the exclusive use of women would be a serious blow to crew morale.

2. Loneliness caused by limited communications makes submarine life especially difficult. There is no mail or electronic communication between port calls, except for one-way, 40-word "family-grams." Adm. Chiles warned that "The 60-77 days spent submerged on routine SSBN patrols and SSN operations result in stresses that are exacerbated by [close quarters]....The inherent loneliness could lead to sexual problems aboard ship and marital problems at home....Stress is unavoidable on each sailor and his family. We should not impose more."

In an eye-opening Navy Times article titled "Swedish subs serve as model to U.S. fleet," a Royal Swedish Navy officer was unconcerned about the lack of privacy on small, 30-person Swedish subs. Men and women change clothes, bunk and shower in the same spaces. "Love relationships" occurring while underway are conducted "professionally," and treated with wary acceptance. Swedish sailors of both sexes said "it’s the natural way of doing it."

In an editorial letter published in the same July 5 edition, an American female officer insisted that men and women on subs should be trusted to act "very maturely." "The opinion of wives," she said, "should not even count." Some sailors may agree, but most families will not.

3. Elitist policy makers play with fire when they throw ordinary human beings into an emotionally volatile, 100% oxygen environment, and then insist there be zero tolerance of sparks. When sexual misadventures occur while deployed under the sea, creating problems unique to women, the consequences are far more serious than they are on the surface.

Capt. Craig Quigley, a spokesman for Secretary Danzig, recently told the Baltimore Sun that airlift evacuations from surface ships are a "very unusual occurrence," and a woman could be removed from a submarine "the same way we airlift a man with appendicitis." Never mind that acute, life-threatening illness is rare in men, but pregnancy and other medical conditions requiring evacuation of women are very common indeed.

During a recent deployment of the carrier Theodore Roosevelt, for example, 45 of 300 women did not deploy or complete the cruise due to impending childbirth. Eleven of the 45 were flown off the ship while underway--probably in safe, carrier onboard delivery (COD) aircraft.

COD aircraft do not operate on submarines. As Adm. Chiles pointed out, mid-ocean helicopter evacuations of female submariners would be extremely hazardous for all concerned. A 1998 study found that in 1996, 4 in 10 pregnancies among enlisted women on sea duty ended in miscarriage or abortion. Possible birth defects caused by early exposure to a sub’s nuclear reactor are a legitimate concern.

Elaine Donnelly4. The unplanned loss of any sailor from a small-crewed submarine imposes considerable strain on fellow crewmembers, especially in technical areas, because replacements are usually not available. Women are capable sailors, but during Operation Desert Storm, enlisted women were almost four times as non-deployable as men, primarily due to pregnancy or child-care problems. The Center for Naval Analysis recently found that female sailors’ "unplanned loss" rate (23-25%) is more than two and a half times the rate for men (8-10%). If proportionate losses and evacuation rates are extended to covert submarines, the negative effects on morale, safety, and national security could be significant.

5. The presidential commission learned that many tasks assigned to junior crewmembers are strenuous. Predictable physical strength deficiencies among female submariners would impose greater burdens on others, especially in emergencies.

Some advocates suggest they might be satisfied if women were assigned to larger submarines only. But limiting female sailors to "boomers" alone would create an unworkable career path, and lead to demands for more incremental change. Others insist that deployments of women on combat ships have been totally successful. No one close to the situation would dare say otherwise. The pregnancy policy imposed by former Navy Secretary John Dalton forbids negative comments about its consequences.

Nor does anyone talk about the harmful effect of unprecedented social experimentation on chronic recruiting and retention problems. Reconfiguration or building of new submarines to accommodate women would be expensive. But short-term construction costs pale in importance when compared to the price of avoidable problems, such as increased non-deployability and attrition rates.

The submarine force is a key element of strategic deterrence. Sexual politics is no excuse for compromising its safety and effectiveness. Radical change could happen overnight, however, because the law exempting women from combat ships was repealed in 1993. Unless Congress or the next president intervenes, "fem fear" will likely be used as an excuse to alter submarine culture. Will the Navy SEALS be the next community to be unfairly stigmatized as a "white male bastion?"

Decisions about submarine assignments must be based on reality, not Greek mythology or utopian fantasies. The silent service should not be burdened with unsound policies that undermine efficiency, discipline, and family morale, while failing to improve readiness and deterrence in a still-dangerous world.

Elaine Donnelly

The Detroit News had the following article.  I admire and thank Mrs. Donnelly for all her work against feminist castration but we can't help but repeat a motif in our books.  Without knowing the Divine Principle and the absolute standard of God as taught by Sun Myung Moon, those on the side of God often water down their arguments because they cannot take a truth to its logical conclusion.  Donnelly fights valiantly against the massive forces trying to get women into combat.  But she shoots herself in the foot when she says she is all for women being in the military and women commanding men.  This weak stand dooms her to failure. What she should be fighting for is the absolute logic that no woman should be in the military at all.

Michiganian takes offensive against women in combat

By George Cantor / The Detroit News

 Elaine Donnelly dismisses the description of her activities as a crusade. "I just write a little," she says.
    "A little" may not be quite the suitable phrase. In a whirlwind of newsletters, faxes and opinion articles issued from her Livonia in-home office, Donnelly is a writing machine.
    Her Center for Military Readiness has become a formidable adversary of those in the military, Congress and the feminist movement who want to send American women into combat.    Among top military brass, who have come under tremendous political pressure to advance women into command positions in combat specialties, Donnelly is a major annoyance. Among women in the armed forces and the feminist movement who are dedicated to the concept, she is a threat to gender equity.
    But there is also substantial evidence that among many veteran officers, who speak publicly only at risk of their careers, she has become something of a hero.
    "The issue of women in combat is now the acid test, the fulcrum of activism in regard to the military," Donnelly says. "You don't cross the feminists if you want a future. That's a career-killer in today's armed forces, ever since Tailhook."
    She is also in the process of being sued for libel by a U.S. Navy pilot, one of two women trained to fly the F-14, a carrier-based fighter. The other one, Lt. Kara Hultgreen, was killed in October 1994 when her plane crashed while attempting to land on the carrier Lincoln.
    Donnelly insists it was not engine failure, the official position of the Navy, but pilot error that was responsible for the crash. Through military sources, she obtained training reports that she says indicate Hultgreen was pushed through the program despite a performance rating that would have washed out a male candidate.
    In a letter forwarding that information to Sen. Strom Thurmond, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Donnelly indicated that a similar low rating was given to the other pilot, whom she referred to as "Pilot B."
    That woman, Lt. Carey Dunai Lohrenz, was subsequently taken off carrier duty. She is suing the Navy for sexual discrimination, as well as Donnelly.
    "All these (Donnelly) actions have the effect of working to exclude women in the armed forces from a career path to top command," says Patricia Ireland, president of the National Association for Women (NOW.) "They also reinforce the stereotype that women are weak, inferior and in need of protection."
    "This is the core issue within the military right now," says New York-based writer Stephanie Gutmann, who wrote a cover story on the issue for the New Republic in February. "Those on active duty and retirees, both men and women, are passionate in their opposition to women in combat.
    "Their feeling is that the top brass has turned its back on the ranks and capitulated to a group of civilians who don't know what they're talking about. Every study has come back indicating that women do not want to serve in combat, that this is being pushed by a small group of goofy university ideologues who represent almost no one.
    "But if you oppose them, they label you a 'biological determinist' and accuse you of believing in inherent sex roles. And they have persuaded the military that if there are any problems with these programs, deny them."
    Donnelly claims widespread support within the military. She shows a recent letter from a two-star admiral (with identity crossed out) who claims to have been on the Lincoln the day after Lt. Hultgreen died. He says he viewed the taped rerun of her landing and has no doubt the crash was a result of pilot error.
    "The situation was caused by the pilot, and her unfortunate attempts to correct the difficulty simply made a bad position deadly," he wrote. "In short, she took a lease on the farm in training, then 'bought it' that day. This is not a matter of political correctness, but a simple issue of survival."
    He sent along a $500 contribution to Donnelly's defense.
    But a former resource sponsor for Naval aviation training, who now works in private industry in the Detroit area, disputes Donnelly's interpretation of Hultgreen's training record. Although he testified to Congress about this case, he also wishes to remain anonymous.
    "Some people take longer than others to pass the standard," he says. "Some male pilots took more than Lt. Hultgreen, some took less. Of course, this was a highly visible thing and received closer scrutiny. It was metered because it was of interest to so many people. We wanted to get women out front in this effort. But that is far different from saying that she was given special consideration.
    "The Navy would not do that. Landing on a carrier at night is the most demanding, most stressful flying you will ever do in your life. You can't let a person out whom you would not trust with your life. Eight out of nine male pilots could not have recovered from the situation in which Lt. Hultgreen died."
    Donnelly, the mother of two grown daughters, came to this role through her opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the 1970s.
    It was her fear then that the ERA would be interpreted as making women eligible for the military draft.
    Donnelly's interest in military issues deepened subsequently while serving a three-year term ("I was the token conservative") as an appointee of President Ronald Reagan on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. She also was a member of a presidential commission to study whether women should be assigned a combat role in the armed forces and was a clear voice in opposition on its final report.
    "I want to make it clear that I am definitely not opposed to women taking a leadership role in the military," Donnelly says. "But not in combat. What infuriates me is that the women who are pushing the hardest for this have little concern for the enlisted women who will have to pay the price. This is simply careerism for a few well-connected female officers.
    "I think we are looking at two issues here. First, what does sending women into combat tell us about what kind of people we are? Are we really ready for this as a nation, as a culture? In prisoner-of-war training exercises, which are like someone coming at you with a fire hose, it has been shown repeatedly that males can be broken down if they think women soldiers are being sexually assaulted. In combat situations, they will show greater concern for protecting female soldiers.
    "That's the way they have been brought up. Do we really want to change that? Do we really want to desensitize the entire American male population toward women? Because that's what it will take. Nothing less. In the Israel Defense Forces, they use women as trainers for male soldiers. But they never send them into combat. Because they saw the demoralizing effect it had when women's bodies were desecrated in their war for independence. The Israeli officers I spoke to can't understand why we'd even be debating such a thing."
    The second issue for Donnelly is military preparedness. She asks if this country is sacrificing unit cohesiveness by waiving the laws of biology; the probability that women in their 20s will get pregnant in the middle of military campaigns and that the impulse for healthy young men and women to have sex is heightened in tense, emotional situations.
    "More than that, though," Donnelly says, "is the question of whether the military has adopted the position that excellence is optional. That it is a social laboratory rather than a fighting force, and other concerns must take a back seat to gender equity.
    "The women who want this make a big issue of the high-tech nature of modern war, that it isn't fought in the trenches with machine guns and bayonets. So upper body strength isn't important anymore. But they still have to carry that high-tech equipment into the field, and the backpacks weigh 80 pounds or more. The weight of a combat soldier's equipment hasn't changed much since the army of Julius Caesar. Eighty pounds still weighs 80 pounds no matter what the feminists would like you to believe."
    Both Donnelly and Gutmann also have compiled evidence that leads them to argue that a double standard is being imposed on training exercises and that women are passed on with a far less rigorous standard than men.
    Quoting a U.S. Marine recruiter, Gutmann wrote: "Invariably the guys went down to Officer Candidate School with a near-perfect physical score while the women just cleared the minimum -- even after using what the brass calls gender norming. For example, in the Marines fitness for women is tested with a flexed arm hang instead of pull-ups, half the number of sit-ups and a slower run."
    The belief that gender-norming was affecting the quality of America's military readiness led Donnelly into the Kara Hultgreen case and her legal problems. The lawsuit is being pursued by a Colorado-based organization called "Women Active in Our Nation's Defense, Their Advocates and Supporters." The group was founded by a friend of former U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder, a leading advocate of women in combat.
    "It's no fun having papers served on you and having to raise $250,000 for legal defense," Donnelly says. "But if they want to pursue this, I can't wait to get into open court and bring the testimony about these training records before the public.
    "To me, the military has bought into what I call the Amazon myth -- that women can hardly wait for the chance to get into combat if the men would only let them. Movies like Courage Under Fire may be effective drama, but they're just untrue. Women were not assigned to combat situations in the Persian Gulf War.
    "A majority of women say they would leave the military if asked to take a combat role. That's where the truth is."