Chief Fire Control Technician Kathryn Leiphart was the first woman Fire Control Technician on submarines. She was assigned to the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Florida (SSGN 728) Blue Crew (2017). She went on to become the first woman Fire Control Technician detailer, where she is currently assigned (2022).
8 March 2023 at 01:59
This isn’t going to be politically correct, but it’s so important (in my opinion), that I will say it: The thought of having men and women serve together on combatant vessels (even before women starting serving alongside men on submarines) made me fearful of the long-term effect these coed crews would have on combat efficiency. I started worrying about this years ago when I first heard the Navy was considering doing so. I heard or read what amounted to a horror story some years ago, when the USS Samuel L. Gompers (AD-37) returned—early—to San Diego from a combat assignment in the Middle East.
I was—and remain—concerned about the effect coed crews may have on spouses who remain at home, usually with children, while their spouse is at sea serving in confined spaces and close quarters with members of the opposite sex. Again, combat efficiency may suffer. And, perhaps, this could weaken the marriages of some of our service members.
On the other hand, as men and women evolve and learn to work together in close quarters, it is possible that combat efficiency may even improve.
With enlistments, officer and enlisted, well below the needs of the Navy, I fully realize there are various good reasons why we need to have women serving with men on all vessels of the United States Navy. (When I initially considered the situation, I thought, “Perhaps we should have male crews and female crews just like SSBN’s have long had Blue and Gold crews.) Obviously, the best answer is for the men and women of the Navy and their spouses back home learning how to work together and to avoid getting into compromising situations.
As the son of a former submariner, I wish Chief Leiphart and the women she details to the Fleet, the very best of luck and a completely successful and happy career in our beloved United States Navy. I fully understand why many women, as well as many men, wish to serve in our Navy and the other armed forces of the United States.
(P.S. My late father, Captain Andrew McKane, MC, USN, was a bit of “a male chauvinist pig.” He believed “a woman’s place is in the home.” I heard him say these very words many times during my youth, and again while I was serving as a hospital corpsman. My dad (14 May 1917 to 21 July 2004) was a very fine man and an excellent father and husband. He failed, however, to perceive women serving in the military or in the civil sector just as men wish to have their own professions. Never having had children of my own, and being on my third marriage (with only my third wife ever having children) helps me to realize that many women want careers of their own. All 3 of my wives are or were true professionals.)
Andy McKane a.k.a. Andrew McKane IV
Civilian historian, former Navy junior, and former hospital corpsman, United States Navy