Page 16 - Australian Defence Magazine August 2018
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Mixed messing across the submarine means that crew numbers are not limited by gender.
Women in submarines making a vital contribution
of submarines – have changed to reflect this new dynamic.
The challenges of accommodating all fe- male ranks together (who takes one of the vacant officer bunks, for example?) has been resolved by this cultural change. As a result, people sleep in their assigned bunk regard- less of gender.
Fast forward to 2018 and in the 20 years since the first woman served in an Austra- lian submarine, there is no doubt their pres- ence has enhanced the important work sub- mariners have and continue to do in helping to preserve our national security.
The submarine service is now able to recruit from the broad Australian popu- lation base. Looking ahead, there is every reason to believe the number of women serving in submarines will continue to increase. Recruiting to the submarine ser- vice remains a focus as we move towards the introduction of the Future Subma- rines and this is one of the reasons why it is important that the Submarine Institute of Australia, together with the Navy and other key stakeholders, promotes serving in submarines as an attractive career op- tion for women and that the vital contri- bution of women in submarines is broadly acknowledged and recognised.
ONE of the most positive changes involving the Australian submarine force has been the introduction of women serving in sub- marines. This has been a significant innova- tion and has been an important part of the ongoing modernisation of our submarines.
The first time an Australian submarine with women serving aboard went to sea was in the 1990s and women have played an im- portant part on submarines since. It wasn’t an easy transition and if not for the efforts of people like Vice Admiral Ian MacDou- gall AC AFSM RAN, it might not have ever happened.
On a practical level, initial changes were necessary to accommodate women on Collins-class submarines, including alter- ing the on-board configuration to ensure appropriate privacy for men and women
serving alongside each other. Given space is at a premium in submarines, such changes were more than cosmetic, but they were nonetheless very important. They included introducing separate sleeping quarters for men and women, something that wouldn’t have been possible on the previous Oberon- class submarines. This, in itself, presented other challenges, including that when women first started serving in submarines, there would be less than six women serv- ing at the same time, meaning that all six bunks in the women’s sleeping quarters would not be occupied.
The other significant difference since women began serving in Australian subma- rines has been the cultural change which has taken place. All aspects of the on-board environment – not just the physical lay-out
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