US Navy redesigning its submarines to accommodate women

FILE - In this June 28, 2014 file photo, U.S. Navy personnel raise their national flag during the bilateral maritime exercise between the Philippine Navy and U.S. Navy, dubbed Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) aboard the USS John S. McCain in the South China Sea near waters claimed by Beijing. (Noel Celis/Pool Photo via AP, File)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Every submarine in the U.S. fleet was designed with the height, reach and strength of men in mind, from the way valves are placed to how display screens are angled.

That’s going to change.

With 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.

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. But they’re also making more subtle modifications.

For example, they’re lowering overhead valves and making them easier to turn.

The Navy lifted its ban on women on submarines in 2010. The first vessel built with modifications is expected to be delivered to the Navy in 2021.

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