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The Nov. 30, 1993 Defense Authorization Act signed by President Bill Clinton repealed a prohibition against women serving on combat vessels.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.”
Here’s a selection of photos featuring women in naval service holding nearly every job from naval aviator to deep-sea diver.
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.