A copy of an unidentified magazine article came to our notice some weeks ago. It was headed “The Royal Navy”, and dealt with many facets of that Service in a knowledgeable way.
If the writer’s facts are correct, and his/her conclusions are sound, it paints rather a gloomy picture. Part of one item under the sub heading “Harmony at Sea” is reproduced here:
One major personnel matter concerns women at sea. It was seen by many, some years ago, as a brave move to introduce, not as a trial but “for all time”, the current women at sea concept. Ships have been altered …. senior officers have beamed into television camera lenses saying how successful it all is…. but there seems little doubt it has all been a great mistake. As the Dutch found out a decade ago, the girls were keen to get to sea and their first commission was all a great big adventure. Few were keen to repeat the experience when it was time to think of a second term at sea.
With some seven RN ships now having female accommodation areas being returned for male use, the problem is clear for all to see. With national unemployment still high, the number of male ratings seeking early discharge from the RN is at an all time low – and the difficult days of recruiting the right quality/ quantity of men has been a thing of the past for a number of years. It is going to take a brave senior officer to admit that a major mistake has been made – and attempt to revert to the perfectly acceptable status quo which existed before the feminist lobby got to work.
In the RAN, women may be posted to any billet for which they hold the necessary prerequisites, subject to the availability of suitable accommodation and associated facilities. The requirement for proper accommodation and support facilities places the following constraints on female sailors postings:
- no women are to be posted to DDG’s;
- no women are to be posted to submarines at present; however plans are being developed to post women to COLLINS class submarines from 1999;
- no women are to be posted to Clearance Diving teams (due to the possibility of hand to hand combat);
- only female officers are posted to Fremantle Class Patrol Boats; and
- women junior sailors are normally only posted to a ship where there is a female officer or senior sailor borne, and women are not posted if they will be the only female in the ship.
With respect to female sailors volunteering for a second commission at sea, the RAN does not post personnel (male or female) to sea on a voluntary basis only. All female personnel who joined the RAN from 1984 onwards did so with the knowledge that sea service was an obligation or condition of service. All sailors have a sea service obligation to fulfil in accordance with their particular categories sea-shore roster. This roster is not gender specific. If any sailor does not wish to fulfil their sea service obligation necessary action may be taken to review their future employment in the RAN. This policy has been instrumental in minimising the number of gender based problems with the continuing service of women at sea.