Navy downplays concern about sexual assault on submarines
Published: March 18, 2010
Women will soon be aboard submarines, but how will submarine crews deal with sexual assaults?
That question was raised by one of my colleagues at Navy Times Thursday at a roundtable with Navy officials on sexual assault prevention.
The reporter noted that submarine crews live in very close quarters and can spend months submerged.
I believe weve already been operating in that environment for years, said Rear Adm. Daniel Holloway, director of manpower, personnel, training and education.
"No.1: On our frigates and our destroyers today, very close quarters. In our individual augmentees and support overseas, whether its inside the camp fence line or in a foxhole, and in our mine countermeasures, our mine sweepers, our women today serve side by side.
When asked how an alleged perpetrator or victim could be taken off a submarine, Holloway said submarines can surface to evacuate sailors having a medical crisis.
We view the sexual assault, and the mental health condition, re-victimization, her or his safety, the same way as appendicitis, he said.
In such cases, the submarine rendezvous with a surface ship and the sailor is usually taken off by helicopter, said Lory Manning, director of the Women in the Military Project, a non-profit group that looks at policy and law on what women can do in the military.
Its not something that would be unique to a rape, she said in a phone interview Thursday.
Crimes such as male-on-male rape already happen on submarines from time to time, said Manning, a retired Navy captain.
In fact there are more male-on-male rapes in the military than male-on-female rapes, she said.
PHOTO: U.S. Navy.