Some of the Navy’s Best Sailors are Women

image of a woman operating a morse code machine

The records are available and this is what they show. "… enlisted women in today's Navy are among its best sailors," according to Regina Akers, PhD., historian at the Naval History & Heritage Command.

For example, in 2006, HTCS (SW) Tanya DelPriore became the first female selected as a Command Senior Chief, and Command Master Chief Jacqueline L. DiRosa, the senior ranking enlisted woman in the Navy, became the first female Fleet Master Chief. In three short years, by 2009, 55 women were serving as Command Master Chiefs in squadrons and onboard ships and there were 7 more women serving as Command Senior Chiefs.

All communities are now open to women with the exception of submarines and SEALS. There are no restrictions on women in aviation and all aviation ratings are open to enlisted women.

The new surface warfare ships are built from the keel up to accommodate gender integrated crews.

The Navy's 53,593 enlisted women make up 15.3% of the total naval force and the highest percentages of them serve in aviation (18.7%), operations (15.8%), and medical/dental (13.4%). Enlisted women are also ammunition handlers, builders and fighters in the construction battalions, chaplain assistants, corpsmen, cryptologists, linguists, mass communication specialists, recruiters, trainers, and translators.

Here are some high points:


In March of 2007, Chief Sonar Technician Surface (SW) Suzanne Eisinger, Yeoman 2nd Class Mary Jane Valdez and Legalman First Class (SW/AW) were part of the team of 52 officers and 33 enlisted sailors deployed with Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa for a year.

CMDCM Evelyn Banks, an Afro-American, became the first female Command Master Chief of the US Naval Academy.

Construction Mechanic 3/C Cassandra Workman, Builder 3/c Megan Sullivan, and a third female member of Construction Battalion One Served in the Marine Corps' Lioness program which trains volunteers to search Muslim women and children for contraband and explosives.

NCCS (SW/AW) Cynthia Patterson became the first female Command Senior Chief of a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), USS INDEPENDENCE, LCS 2 BLUE.

CMDMC Laura Martinez became the first African American female Force Master Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

Hospital Corpsman Third Class Sandra Rodriguez-Romero attached to Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS COMFORT (T-AH 20) during its four month humanitarian deployment to Latin America and the Caribbean.


CTACS (SW) Dee Allen serves as the Senior Enlisted Advisor in the Office of Women's Policy for the Chief of Naval Personnel.

Zenaida Colon, a native of Puerto Rico and the Navy’s only female Master Chief Aviation Support Equipment Technician (AW/SW), joined the USS BATAAN crew.

According to Dr. Akers, "Given the nature of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan there is no clear line of combat situations believed to be safe or controlled. Life there can quickly become dangerous and chaotic. A number of Navy enlisted women have paid the ultimate cost. Yet, women continue to excel in and out of harm's way."

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