Dutch navy now allowing women on board submarines

Dutch navy now allowing women on board submarines

Good news for women wanting to work for the Dutch navy as submarine crew members. The Royal Netherlands Navy is now allowing women on board its submarines, following a successful yearlong experiment to see whether it was possible to sail with a mixed crew. This change takes effect immediately.

Women can now join all military units

The Submarine Service was the last unit in the military to not accept women. Sailing positions were only open to men due to the lack of space and privacy and the fear that the presence of women would cause problems. However, it seems as though these concerns were complete nonsense, as the “one of the crew” trial has been a success.

Rather than create separated living areas and facilities, the Dutch navy decided to simply make small changes, like having a door for the shower instead of a curtain and more curtain in sleeping areas, to create more privacy on board. This decision was informed by research at other naval units which revealed that making everything separate had a negative impact on female crewmembers’ integration. There are thus no separate facilities onboard Dutch submarines, men and women are simply “crew” and are treated equally.

One of the crew

Whilst not much has changed on board in terms of facilities, a few new rules have been implemented. For example, the crew need to wear more than just a towel if they go to the shower. According to Commanding Officer of the Submarine Service, “Sailing on a submarine is like living in four big caravans with 54 people: privacy and living space are always under pressure. Male colleagues thus appreciate the new rules too.”

The Ministry of Defence has been working on creating more diversity in its workforce for some time now. “A mixed team performs better. With different personalities and ways of thinking, matters are approached from many different angles.”

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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