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U.S. submarines to be redisigned to accommodate female crew members

U.S. submarines to be redisigned to accommodate female crew membersWith women now serving aboard submarines, defense contractor Electric Boat is designing what will be the first Navy subs built specifically to accommodate female crew members.

This is reported by The Associated Press.

The designers are doing the obvious things, such as adding more doors and washrooms to create separate sleeping and bathing areas for men and women and to give them more privacy. They are lowering some overhead valves and making them easier to turn, and installing steps in front of the triple-high bunk beds and stacked laundry machines. But they are also making more subtle modifications.

Submariners are always turning valves, whether to operate machinery, redistribute water between tanks or isolate part of a system that has been damaged. On the Columbia-class boats, valves will generally be placed lower. Sometimes there will be an extension handle, and some will be easier to turn. Sailors will be able to connect their masks into the emergency air system at the side of passageways, instead of overhead.

Seats in the control room on the ballistic-missile submarines will adjust forward a little more so everyone can touch each display and reach every joystick.

The first vessel built with some of the new features is expected to be delivered to the Navy in 2021, the future USS New Jersey.

For now, the Navy is retrofitting existing subs with extra doors and designated washrooms to accommodate women. But Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut, is at work on a redesign of the Navy's Virginia-class fast-attack subs and is also developing a brand-new class of ballistic-missile submarines, relying on body measurements for both men and women.
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