HONOLULU — The first women on Virginia-class attack submarines in the Pacific will serve on the USS Texas and USS Mississippi at Pearl Harbor starting in fiscal 2016, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Thursday.
"I made that decision in 2010 to put women on submarines, and the big news has been there's actually no news," Mabus said. "Women have performed to a very high standard — as all our submariners do."
Mabus added, "It's just not a (big) deal."
Female officers began serving on the Navy's biggest subs in late 2011. There are now 14 crews that include women on three Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines and four guided-missile subs, the Navy Times reported.
Two East Coast Virginia-class subs, the Illinois and Minnesota, will be the first to receive female officers in 2015, the Pentagon said. The submarine Mississippi hasn't yet reported to Pearl Harbor.
Mabus made the announcement following a groundbreaking and blessing of the Navy's largest solar generation project in Hawaii.
The Navy awarded a $334 million task order July 11 to Pacific Energy Solutions LLC of Boca Raton, Fla., for the procurement of renewable energy.
The Hawaii Joint Services Solar Power Generation project is planned to be constructed at 85 sites at Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps bases on Oahu and Kauai.
A previous report said 68 solar power systems would be mounted on existing roofs, 12 on parking lot structures and five on the ground. A Waipio Peninsula site would be the biggest, with 42 acres of photovoltaic panels.
Mabus previously set the goal of having at least half of all Naval energy derived from nonfossil fuels by 2020. Hawaii is more dependent on imported oil than any other state.
"You look at this beautiful day, you look at this sunshine, you feel this wind, you listen to those waves and you wonder why we're using any oil here, because we have the natural resources to provide all the power that we need," Mabus said.
Mabus said the new photovoltaic systems, to be owned and operated by contractors with the military buying back power, will generate 17 megawatts of electricity, or roughly enough to power 5,000 homes.
An estimated $1.6 million will be saved in the first year of operation, Mabus said.
The Navy secretary spent the day on the littoral combat ship USS Independence, participating in Rim of the Pacific exercises, and lauded the confirmation of Gen. Joseph Dunford as the next commandant of the Marine Corps.
"If you look at his career, he's going to be a spectacular commandant, and he's replacing a great commandant in (Gen.) Jim Amos," Mabus said.