France to have its first women submariners on mission

"Le Terrible" is one of the four French nuclear submarines.
"Le Terrible" is one of the four French nuclear submarines. Fred Tanneau/Pool/AFP

The French Navy announced on Monday that four women will join the crew of a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) that will soon be on patrol.


The four female officers, including a doctor, underwent a two-year period of training, before joining  “their submarine a week, ten days ago”, said Admiral Christophe Prazuck, Navy Chief of Staff.

"They are training on land and at sea," said Admiral Prazuck. It is planned that they will make the next patrol with their comrades ". Among these pioneers are "a nuclear expert" and "an expert in diving safety".

The third woman will be shift manager.

The end of an exception

France has four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. At least one is permanently at sea. Each mission lasts 70 days.

Until now serving on French submarines was not open to women. Serving in the submarine corps opened to women in 2014 but they were confined to posts on land.

"To respect our privacy rules, it's easier for officers who have single rooms in nuclear-powered submarines. We'll decide what comes next, " added Admiral Prazuck.

Several countries in the world already have women onboard their submarines, including the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, Sweden and Norway.

The crew of the Argentinian navy submarine San Juan, missing since 15 November in the South Atlantic, included the first female submarine officer in Latin America.

The French army has a total of 15% women in its ranks, ranking fourth in the world in terms of feminisation behind the Israeli, Hungarian and American armies, according to the Ministry of the Armed Forces.

Women make up 14.7% of French Navy staff, 9% of whom are at sea.

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