By Meghann Myers, Navy Times
December 4, 2014
Some of the first female sailors to serve on Navy submarines were secretly recorded while they undressed.
The women were recorded aboard the ballistic missile submarine Wyoming, which is home ported in Kings Bay, Ga. Navy officials are investigating an unidentified 24-year-old male who is accused of making and distributing the videos, according to a Nov. 14 incident report circulated among the service’s most senior leaders. The sailor was identified only by his rank: second class petty officer.
The videos are believed to show at least three female officers while showering or undressed that were recorded over more than a year, according to a source who has spoken to one of the alleged victims.
It amounts to a huge scandal for a community that has prided itself on an otherwise smooth integration effort, begun four years ago when women first entered submarine training. And it comes as the Navy moves toward its next milestones, integrating Virginia-class attack subs and then the enlisted submarine ranks.
A ballistic missile sub typically has 15 officers and 140 enlisted on board, with unisex heads in “officer country.” When a woman is using the shower, for example, she puts up a sign to indicate the head is in use by a female officer, and men must wait to enter until it’s unoccupied.
It’s possible that the cameras caught both men and women showering, but the source in touch with an alleged victim believes only the videos of women were distributed.
Some of the women are upset with leadership’s handling of the situation, citing a lack of sensitivity toward those affected.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating, according to the unclassified incident report, which characterized the incident as a “privacy violation.” But a retired supply officer who’s in touch with at least one of the victims said this was more like a case of clear-cut “sexual harassment.”
Lt. Leslie Hubbell, spokeswoman for Submarine Group 10 in Kings Bay, said the Navy would hold individuals involved accountable if the allegations prove factual but said it would be inappropriate to comment further while the investigation is ongoing.
Hubbell described the allegations as “criminal activity” and said they came to light last month.
“The Navy became aware of the alleged criminal activity in November 2014 and promptly began an investigation, which is ongoing,” she said in a written statement.
Details of how many videos were made, how widely they were distributed, or how many women were filmed were not included in the message. The petty officer accused of filming and distributing the videos is assigned to Trident Training Facility, according to the incident report.
A report was initially filed after an officer on a different submarine received the videos, according to the retired supply officer.
The Wyoming was one of the first submarines to take on women in 2011, beginning with 12 female supply and line officers. The retired officer said this incident should give women pause about seeking such jobs.
The videos’ discovery comes just weeks before the Navy’s next round of integration, the first time women will be assigned to Virginia-class attack boats.
In January, six female officers, two supply and four nuclear-trained, are set to report to the subs Virginia and Minnesota in Groton, Conn. Two Pacific Fleet submarines are due to be announced soon as the next round of subs to take on female officers.
There are now 14 crews with women on three Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines and four guided-missile subs.
Enlisted women are also scheduled to join the submarine force at large within the next few years. According to the Navy’s integration plan, women will make up 20 percent of the enlisted crew on seven of the 18 Ohio-class submarines by 2020.