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Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dominique Pineiro / U.S. Navy

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Krystal Way patrols the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island as Sailors and Marines man the rails while the ship departs from San Francisco Fleet Week 2012.

A retired Navy captain is sounding an alarm over women serving on warships.

“We can’t have both chastity and mixed-sex complements,” Kevin Eyer argues in October’s Proceedings, the professional naval journal published by the independent U.S. Naval Institute. “So what’s the priority—a combat-ready Fleet or gender diversity?”

This is a touchy issue for sailors and admirals alike. Eyer says the bawdy times that male sailors used to enjoy in far-flung ports have been replaced:

…even despite the Navy’s ever-increasing efforts to legislate morality (or perhaps because of it) sailors have discovered new ways in which to be, well, sailors. Over time, they have largely replaced those historic foreign dalliances with that which is more expedient and close at hand: sex with their shipmates.

Eyer details changes that he says have taken place over the past 20 years in the sea service, ever since women were permitted to serve aboard warships. “Look at the sheer mass of evidence: Record numbers of commanding officers, executive officers, and command master chiefs are being sacked for personal misconduct,” he writes. “If they who have so very much to lose aren’t being good, how can we expect our sailors to behave?”

Eyer says the Navy dismisses the significance of such firings, saying they represent only about 1% of commanders, in line with historic norms. “In fact, the statistic only holds true if one calculates the numbers by including every billet marked as `command’ or `command-equivalent,’ either at sea or ashore. Then you get more than 2,000 `commanders’ to use for the equation,” he writes. “But if the math is done using, for example, only fully integrated combat ships, it turns out that correct number is closer to 10% CO firings, which certainly does seem significant.”

While commanders can be sacked for such sexual transgressions, lower-ranking sailors and younger officers, Eyers says, handle it with winks and nods. “A new sort of `Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ approach has become the de facto law of the land,” he maintains.

The piece has triggered the expected fireworks.

“As a current department head in a [destroyer] I can say that from my small perspective it is absolutely true and an absolute problem,” a young officer comments. “As for Proceedings, congratulations for having the moral courage to publish this controversial article.”

“This article is fundamentally flawed. Relationships between people on the same ship are not against regulations,” a second commenter opines. “The author has been off of the waterfront since 2007. I am curious how he has arrived at the conclusion of “widespread sexual congress” from his cubicle way off in gray beard land. Frankly, I am embarrassed USNI published this article.”

12 comments
Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

From what I've heard from quite a few former Navy personnel, sailors have been having sex on ships for decades and decades. Only now, it's with females, too.

Jeffrey Geez Glavick
Jeffrey Geez Glavick

Of course the guy is right, spare me the moral Bs, boy's will be boy's and girl's will be girls, what do you expect, some sort of change in human nature? gee that has not happened since the beginning of time, so why now, his comment: “So what’s the priority—a combat-ready Fleet or gender diversity?” is spot on.

LoudRambler
LoudRambler

 Problem is that some of the de-juro regulations like this are de-facto ignored or treated lightheartedly, it erodes the power of other de-juro regulations that actually has to be followed de-facto.

 And, in the end, you can end up with loosely controlled crowd of boys with big guns that are supposed to operate on their own and to follow orders.

1minpin
1minpin

Indescretions have always been around, it is just prosecuted more today particullarly for adultry.  If you don't believe me then go to the story on defense media network about George C. Marshall having issues with his officers and thier indescretions.  http://www.defensemedianetwork... .   It is not illegal for anyone to have a relationship, particularly as long as the two are not married.  Adultry is illegal by the UCMJ and just because there are women on the boat and the case load has increased doesn't mean that the females  on the boat are the cause.  It just means they can't hide these indescretions due to the changes in media and advanced communications.   This gentelmen forgets that when he started his career they didn't have internet on ships like they do today.  Go back to Abigal Adams letters and you will see that she discusses the amount of bastard children our own continental congress left in philadelphia.  This gentlemen can not see the forest for the trees as he is stuck in the forest. 

anonguest7619
anonguest7619

well, as someone deployed to Afghanistan right now, I can honestly say that sex is the furthest thing from my mind. sleeplessness, terrible pollution, and mind numbing work punctuated by moments of terror do not make a very sexy environment. but i can see how someone sitting behind his home computer in his nice, cushy Northern Virginia home in the suburbs might think it would be.

smedleybutlersociety
smedleybutlersociety

 If you need a sexy environment to get it on, you're missing a whole lot.

Douche_Baggin
Douche_Baggin

Are there any naval warships in Afghanistan?

anonguest7619
anonguest7619

 nope, but s whole hell of a lot of sand sailors.

Rumionemore
Rumionemore

So what the captain is saying is that it's the men who have the problem? If blow-up dolls - or snakes - were on-ship with them, they'd do it with them? The retired cap. is making all sailors sound pathetic and unseaworthy. Rather than being disciplined and war-ready with the billions of taxpayer dollars poured into our "security," that we really can't rely on the poor, out-of-control sailors when and if they "need" to have sex. Our military might be the largest in the world, but it appears it's not the smartest. This cap. has made a good case for promoting large numbers of qualified females into top ranks so they can capably run the navy.

Douche_Baggin
Douche_Baggin

No. He's making them sound human.

Rumionemore
Rumionemore

That's a feat within itself.

I have a friend who says he loves dogs because anything they do, you can watch. I expect more of humans.

PaoloBernasconi
PaoloBernasconi

so lets see,... tight quarters, sweaty activities, high level of tension caused by the war like context ... need for tension release ... males see females, both young and likely sexually active ... of course they hump when they can. I would be very very worried if they didn't. The issue is not sex, it's sexual unfairness. 

Sex between officers and lower ranking females (the other way around is not a problem, for now)  is not allowed for very good reasons. However, think about how unfair this is for the officers. While the soldiers get to hump each other,   it's legal, no rank conflict, the officers instead get only to watch their sailors hump their sea days away, while they only can ... help themselves by hand.

It must be hard to see young fit sexy women and have no way to get your hands on.. especially after months at sea.

I think regulation should be changed regarding the use of professional sex workers by  officers while at sea, during off days of course. 

Man, give them a break ..  if you are hetero and see no females for months cause the shipmates are all males, well it's hard, but at least there are no female hormones pushing your buttons, but spending months at sea while your subordinates hump their way to freedom... seeing all that good stuff walking around you and there is nothing you can do, it's cruel !

Would it be conceivable to introduce a sexual worker branch of the Navy? Sex for officers at war .. put it under the psychological support ;-)

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