I read "Breaking into the underwater boys’ club" (article, July 22). Comments of some of the interviewees were disappointing and even alarming, considering what is at stake. The "Silent Service" is not a "boys’ club," and this is a serious matter.
The female doctor who rode on some submarine deployments, and others quoted in the article, seem unaware of the hazards to all crewmembers, and any unborn child in the earliest weeks, if a pregnancy is discovered while on an undersea mission.
The recycled submarine atmosphere is safe for adults but a likely cause of birth defects in unborn children. Ectopic pregnancies, which are not statistically rare, would create additional emergencies requiring immediate, extremely hazardous, evacuations, sometimes in midocean.
Britain, Canada and the U.S. Navy do not put women on submarines primarily because of these irresolvable health risks and operational complications. In addition, habitability standards on subs are well below minimum standards on surface ships. Crowd them even more, in order to provide separate quarters for female officers and enlisted sailors, and morale as well as discipline would suffer.
There is a law requiring the Navy to provide official notice to Congress before any funds are spent to gender-integrate submarines.
Elaine DonnellyPresident, Center for Military ReadinessLivonia, Mich.