The first women to serve on U.S. Navy submarines are expected to be on the job by fall of 2011, Navy officials said Thursday, ushering in a policy change to what has been an elite service open only to men since the start of the modern Navy's submarine program.
While Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced the change last month, the Navy had to wait for Congress to review and approve the new policy over a 30-day period which ended at midnight Thursday morning.
The official announcement came later Thursday from the commander of Submarine Group 10, Rear Adm. Barry Bruner, during a news conference at the Navy submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia.
The first women chosen for the program will be selected by the Navy among upcoming graduates from the Naval Academy, the collegiate Reserves Officer Training Corps - also known as ROTC - and officer candidate schools.
Those women will go through the intensive 15-month submarine officer training program, which includes nuclear power school, submarine training, and the Submarine Officer Basic Course.