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First Enlisted Woman Ready for Submarine Deployment

female submariner
Chief Culinary Specialist Dominique Saavedra

By MarEx 2016-08-03 17:31:52

One of the first women to serve on board a U.S. Navy submarine earned her submarine qualification or "dolphins" and is preparing to deploy aboard USS Michigan (SSGN 727).

Chief Culinary Specialist Dominique Saavedra, from Los Angeles, became the first female enlisted sailor to earn her silver dolphins in a pinning ceremony held at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on Tuesday. 

Though assigned to Michigan, Saavedra embarked on board USS Ohio (SSGN 726), which is currently deployed, to earn her basic, advanced and underway watch qualifications. 

The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan is currently conducting a major maintenance period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard which will be finished late this summer. Work accomplished during the maintenance period will include the modification of living quarters for female chief petty officers and enlisted crew members.

"Chief Saavedra's accomplishment reinforces the fact that there are very capable women who have the talent and desire to succeed in the submarine force," said Captain Joe Turk, commanding officer of USS Michigan. "Drawing from talented individuals like Chief Saavedra helps us maintain the world's best submarine force."

In June 2012, the first female supply officer earned her submarine qualification and the first three unrestricted line officers earned their gold dolphins the following December. Structural changes to the submarine weren't necessary at the time. Because officers bunk in three-man staterooms, the new female officers' living space was already separated from the common areas of the ship. 

Since the first selections were made in 2015, female enlisted sailors have attended the Basic Enlisted Submarine School at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut. 

Thirty-eight sailors were selected in the second cycle announced in May 2016 and have entered the training pipeline. They will be assigned to USS Florida (SSGN 728), based out of Kings Bay, Georgia. 

"This is a very exciting time for the submarine force and the Navy," said Rear Admiral Randy B. Crites, the Enlisted Women in Submarines Task Force Commander. "We are reaching milestones that allow us to be more capable than ever by growing and diversifying our force as these exceptional women make their way through the training pipeline."

The third application window for enlisted women on submarines will be announced in October 2016. The selectees will serve on board USS Ohio (SSGN 726), home ported in Bangor, Washington.