Naval History and Heritage Command

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Women Divers: Part of the Navy Team
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Farragut as its first base commander. Less upper body strength, less aerobic capacity, higher risk of the bends, hormonal differences, and pregnancy were used as reasons for them not to dive. Today the primary restriction to diving is pregnancy. The physical qualification for women divers is the same as those for men: She had to handle some pounds of gear, including a Mark V dive helmet, weighted boots, and a heavy canvas suit.

She dove in water that was often dark, cold, and turbulent, accompanied by men, some of whom were supportive and many more who resented her invasion of their domain. The dive dresses were too big, the boots were too big, and the breastplate stuck over my shoulders by several inches.

I sewed towels into my shirts, making me look like a football player. This allowed the breastplate to sit higher, giving me some room to move my arms up.

I wore my shoes covered by a pair of socks inside the boots so that the boots would not fall off of my feet. In the face of physical hardship and institutional barriers, the first women Navy divers were determined.

They struggled with equipment sized for larger bodies and an organization that was not always welcoming. You need to be dedicated. You need to practice. You need to be serious about it. By the end of the first two weeks we were down to thirteen. I survived this attrition by smiling the whole way through physical training and working myself to death. Only catch, I had to go to Navy diving school. Then he informed me there was one other bit of news that went with this diving school stuff.

I would be the first female officer to ever go through. My Dad was a Navy Seabee qualified in underwater demolition, and I knew what Navy diving school meant. To make a naval career in diving medicine, I had to become qualified in submarines. A dive school classmate found a submarine commanding officer willing to have a woman undersea medical officer to care for his crew. Because I was willing to go down in the bilges, through sonar domes, crawl up inside a missile and learn whatever the crew was willing to teach… [I] broke down any barriers the crew may have had when I initially appeared on deck.

Divers train and dive in teams. Divers working in the water are supported by their shipmates on the surface. Teamwork is at the core of everything divers do. Everyone went through the same rigors of physical training. Navy diving is based up on a buddy system. Your life depends upon that buddy in the water with you. You have to trust them in their knowledge and ability, as well as they have to trust you to take care of them if things go sideways.

The result is that the Navy diving community is another family within the Navy family. Learn more about the women divers originally featured in this exhibit and other female Navy divers who also helped pave the way.

In , she became the first woman to qualify as a submarine rescue chamber operator, and was the first woman to command the Consolidated Divers Unit in San Diego from United States Naval Institute. Fowler, 82; Naval Sea Systems Commander". Retrieved 8 August Retrieved 18 September Retrieved from " https: All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from September Articles to be expanded from February All articles to be expanded Articles using small message boxes Articles containing potentially dated statements from May All articles containing potentially dated statements.

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