Navy investigates recording of female officers taking showers

Master Chief Rusty Staub, assigned to Submarine Group 9 Command, congratulates Lt. j.g. Amber Cowan, assigned to the Blue crew of the ballistic missile submarine USS Maine, for earning her submarine warfare officer device Dec. 5 in Bangor, Wash. Cowan and Lt. j.g. Jennifer Noonan, center, are two of three sailors to become the first female unrestricted line officers to qualify in submarines. (Chief Mass Communication Specialist Ahron Arendes)

The Navy is investigating reports that some of the first women ever assigned to a Navy submarine were secretly recorded on video while showering, a Navy official said.

The incidents allegedly occurred on the USS Wyoming, an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine that is based in Kings Bay, Georgia. The Navy first learned of the allegations last month, and launched an investigation along with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the official said.

Navy Lt. Leslie Hubbell, a service spokeswoman, declined to specify what happened, citing the ongoing investigation. The Navy was notified of possible criminal behavior on board the Wyoming, she said. Another Navy official confirmed it involves allegations that women were recorded on the Wyoming in various states of undress.

“If the allegations prove to be factual, the Navy will ensure individuals involved are held accountable for their actions,” Hubbell said.

The investigation, first reported by the independent Navy Times, centers on a 24-year-old enlisted sailor on the submarine. The videos are believed to show at least three female officers while showering or undressing, and had been recorded over more than a year, Navy Times reported, citing a source who had spoken to one of the alleged victims.

The allegation is a troubling development in the integration of women into new jobs in the military. Female officers were first assigned to submarines in late 2011, with the Wyoming among the first involved. In addition to the Wyoming, women now serve on at least six other submarines. Enlisted female sailors are still not allowed to do so, but the service is aiming to integrate them by 2020.

Women are expected to be integrated on fast-attack submarines for the first time in January, when female officers are assigned to the USS Virginia and USS Minnesota. Since the Navy lifted a prohibition on women serving on submarines in April 2010, at least 43 women have done so, service officials said in October.

By Dan Lamothe (The Washington Post)


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