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Combat Vessels Opened to Women 25 Years Ago Today

By Yonca Poyraz-Dogan
Navy Office of Information

Today is the 25th anniversary of the date when women became eligible to serve aboard combat vessels in the Navy. Previously, women were in shore-based roles or aboard noncombat vessels, such as, oilers, hospital and supply ships.

The Nov. 30, 1993 Defense Authorization Act signed by President Bill Clinton repealed a prohibition against women serving on combat vessels.

Representing about 19 percent of the naval force, women contribute in significant ways as they serve in every rank from seaman to admiral. Retired Adm. Michelle J. Howard was the first female four-star admiral in the U.S. Navy. Currently, senior female leadership includes Vice Adm. Lisa Franchetti, commander of U.S. Sixth Fleet, as well as Vice Adm. Mary M. Jackson, commander, Navy Installations Command.

Vice Adm. Jackson remarked the day and thanked women serving at sea.

“Congratulations to all of the women who have and continue to serve aboard our Navy’s warships over the past 25 years. The repeal of the Combat Exclusion law happened 25 years ago today! Looking back, there are a few of us still around who were so very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time – and were able to build on our sea time in combat logistics ships and move into cruisers and destroyers. It was a significant and exciting milestone for our country and for our Navy. That history is important. Equally important is where we are today, and where we are going. We have women serving in fields that 25 years ago, we couldn’t even envision. In the context of great power competition, our CNO’s strategy to build a bigger, more capable fleet demands a diverse, inclusive, and lethal force. I am proud of the opportunities that the Navy affords, regardless of gender. But, as a woman, I am even more thankful for the opportunities. I just want to pay a call out those women serving today at sea and say thank you.”

Vice Adm. Mary Jackson, commander, Navy Installations Command, renders a salute in this June 2018 photo as she walks through the side boys during a change of command ceremony for commander, Navy Region Northwest. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Wyatt L. Anthony/Released)

 

Here’s a selection of photos featuring women in naval service holding nearly every job from naval aviator to deep-sea diver.

Sailors participating in the Riverine Combat Skills course (RCS) prepare for a field training exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 24, 2012. This class was the first RCS training group composed of Coastal Riverine Force Sailors and the first to incorporate women into the course. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Heather M. Paape/Released)

 

Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti has been the commander of U.S. 6th Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO since March 2018. She takes a selfie with Midshipman 1st Class Elise Vincent while visiting the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) in June 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Theron J. Godbold/Released)

 

Vice Adm. Nora Tyson became the first woman to command a carrier strike group in the Navy. In a March 2017 photo here, she is on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) as former commander of the U.S. 3rd Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/Released)

 

FORT MEADE, Md. (April 2, 2014) Vice Adm. Jan E. Tighe smiles as she assumes command of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and U.S. 10th Fleet during a ceremony conducted at fleet headquarters. Tighe relieved Adm. Michael S. Roger, who takes over as commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency and chief of the Central Security Service. Tighe is the third commander of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and U.S. 10th Fleet and the first female commander of a numbered fleet in U.S. Navy history. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David R. Finley Jr./Released)
Vice Adm. Jan E. Tighe smiles in this July 2016 photo as she assumes command of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and U.S. 10th Fleet during a ceremony conducted at fleet headquarters. Tighe had become the third commander of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and U.S. 10th Fleet, and the first female commander of a numbered fleet in U.S. Navy history. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David R. Finley Jr./Released)

 

Lt. Britta Christianson, a Gold Crew supply officer assigned to the guided-missile submarine USS Ohio (SSGN 726), is presented in this February 2014 photo with her Submarine Supply Corps "dolphins" by her commanding officer, Capt. Rodney Mills, during a ceremony at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Christianson is the first female Supply Corps officer to qualify in submarines. (U.S. Navy photo by Chris Calnan/Released)
Lt. Britta Christianson, a Gold Crew supply officer assigned to the guided-missile submarine USS Ohio (SSGN 726), is presented in this February 2014 photo with her Submarine Supply Corps “dolphins” by her commanding officer, Capt. Rodney Mills, during a ceremony at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Christianson is the first female Supply Corps officer to qualify in submarines. (U.S. Navy photo by Chris Calnan/Released)

 

Vice Adm. Robin Braun became the first female commander of the Navy Reserve, making her the first female three star aviator and the first woman to lead any Reserve component of the military. In this May 2015 photo, Vice Adm. Braun, former chief of Navy Reserve, visits Amphibious Construction Battalion (PHIBCB) 2 to speak to active duty and reserve Sailors during a reserve mission training weekend. (U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Taylor Mohr/Released)

 

Capt. Amy N. Bauernschmidt, executive officer of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), reads the petty officer advancement results over the ship’s announcement system, Nov. 21, 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Gwendelyn Ohrazda/Released)

 

ARABIAN SEA (Jan. 25, 2012) Air Control Officer Lt. Nydia Williams, left, Radar Operator Lt. j.g. Ashley Ellison, Plane Commander Lt. Cmdr. Tara Refo, Pilot Lt. Ashley Ruic, and Mission Commander Lt. Cmdr. Brandy Jackson, all assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125, pose for a photo before flying the first all-female-crewed combat mission in an E-2C Hawkeye aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans/Released)
Air Control Officer Lt. Nydia Williams, left, Radar Operator Lt. j.g. Ashley Ellison, Plane Commander Lt. Cmdr. Tara Refo, Pilot Lt. Ashley Ruic, and Mission Commander Lt. Cmdr. Brandy Jackson, all assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125, pose for a photo before flying the first all-female-crewed combat mission in an E-2C Hawkeye aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in this January 25, 2012 photo. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans/Released)

 

In this January 2010 photo, Lt. Regina Rogers coordinates aircraft movements on the flight deck as the Navy’s first female handler during flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nichelle Noelle Whitfield/ Released)

 

In 2016, Dominique Saavedra became the first enlisted female Sailor to earn her submarine qualification. Captain Joe Turk, commanding officer of USS Michigan (SSGN 727) (Blue), presents Chief Culinary Specialist Dominique Saavedra with her submarine qualification certificate during a ceremony at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Saavedra was the first female enlisted Sailor to earn the “dolphins.” (U.S. Navy photo my Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kenneth G. Takada/Released)

 

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said during his speech at Women in Defense Forum June 14 this year that in his Naval Academy Class of 1982, seven percent was female as opposed to the class of 2022 which has 28 percent representation of women. He also noted that four out of six brigade commanders have been women in the past three years.

Have you ever served aboard a combat ship? Tell us about your experience in comments.

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