NHHC home Frequently Asked Questions

Women in the U.S. Navy: Historic Documents

Press Release Announces that Navy to Begin Assigning Women to Ships

News Release
Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
Washington DC

No. 557-78
Oxford 73189 (Copies)
Oxford 75131 (Info)

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 24, 1978

NAVY TO BEGIN ASSIGNING WOMEN TO SHIPS

The Department of the Navy announced today that it will begin assigning women to duty aboard ships. The action is in accord with Navy-sponsored changes to legislation governing the assignment of women contained in the recently enacted Fiscal Year 1979 Defense Authorization Bill. The action is also in accordance with the applicable judicial decision.

Navy women will be assigned permanently to selected non-combatant ships, and may be assigned on temporary duty (180 days or less) aboard any ship that is not expected to become involved in a combat role while women are aboard.

During Fiscal Year 1979, 55 officers and 375 enlisted women will be assigned to 21 ships in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets, with the first officers reporting aboard their respective ships on November 1, 1978. The first enlisted women will report in December.

Of the ships listed below, only the first four have both officer and enlisted women ordered to them at this time. The ships, homeports, and the numbers of officer and enlisted women to be assigned are as follows:

 SHIP TYPE HOMEPORT OFF  ENL
 USS VULCAN (AR 5) Repair Ship Norfolk, VA 3 62
USS L Y SPEARS (AS 36)   Submarine Tender Norfolk, VA 2 102
USS SAMUEL GOMPERS (AD 36) Destroyer Tender San Diego, CA 4 102
 USS NORTON SOUND (AVM 1) Missile Test Ship  Port Hueneme, CA 4 70
 USS DIXON (AS 37) Submarine Tender San Diego, CA 3  
USS PUGET SOUND
(AD 38)
 Destroyer Tender Norfolk, VA 3  
USS HARKNESS
(TAGS 32)
 Surveying Ship Norfolk, VA 1  
USS PIEDMONT (AD 17) Destroyer Tender Norfolk, VA 3  
USS SHENANDOAH
(AD 26)
Destroyer Tender  Norfolk, VA  2  
 USS AJAX (AR 6)  Repair Ship  San Diego, CA  
 USS HECTOR (AR 7)  Repair Ship  San Francisco, CA  
 USS PROTEUS (AS 19)  Submarine Tender  Guam, M.I. 3  
 USS YOSEMITE (AD 19)  Destroyer Tender  Mayport, FL 2  
 USS JASON (AR 8)  Repair Ship  San Diego, CA  2  
 USS SPERRY (AS 12)  Submarine Tender  San Diego, CA 2  
 USS HOLLAND (AS 32)  Submarine Tender  Holy Loch, Scotland 3  
 USS CANOPUS (AS 34)  Submarine Tender Rota, Spain 2  
 USS HUNLEY (AS 31)  Submarine Tender Charleston, SC 2  
 USS SIMON LAKE
(AS 33)
 Submarine Tender  Charleston, SC  
 USS PRAIRIE (AD 15)  Destroyer Tender  San Diego, CA  2  


The twenty-first ship in the program will be identified later.

END

Note: USS Vulcan (AR-5) was the first US Navy ship on which women were deployed (with the exception of nurses on hospital ships).