Submarine crews ready for women, gay men, lesbians, and a smoking ban

Friday, April 30, 2010; A20

The April 22 front-page story "Changes shake isolated world of Navy submarines" presented an unfair picture of those in the Silent Service. Submarines are not underwater frat parties. As the wife and daughter of retired submarine officers, I can attest to their dedication, professionalism, integrity and character.

Implementing a ban on smoking, and integrating women, gay men and lesbians into the service, are challenges as well as opportunities that the force is well equipped to address. These issues affect not only the military but also government and private industry. Smoking is banned in government buildings, hospitals, restaurants and other workplaces. Women are successful in formerly all-male professions. Gay men and lesbians have honorably served in the military.

To characterize submariners as hormone-driven and unable to deal with the stress of deployments without "silliness" is a disservice to them. The rituals of crossing the equator or the Arctic Circle are Navy traditions on surface ships, too. Sailors can be people and professionals at the same time.

The men, and someday women, who serve in submarines will continue patrolling the deep for the security of our country and to ensure peace in our world.

Claudia G. Fiebig, Springfield

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