Seoul: The South Korean Navy on Friday announced that it has decided to allow female sailors to serve on submarines for the first time, starting in 2024, a move to broaden their military roles amid prospects of troop shortages caused by the country’s low birthrate.
The Navy made the decision during Thursday’s key policy meeting, making South Korea the world’s 14th nation with a personnel assignment policy enabling female service members to join the submarine crew, Yonhap News Agency reported.
Under the decision, it plans to select female sailors for submarine responsibilities next year and start dispatching them to serve on a 3,000-ton submarine in 2024.
Female sailors had not been allowed to serve on submarines as relatively small vessels have not been equipped with basic facilities to enable their service. But South Korea’s acquisition of the mid-class 3,000-ton vessel has paved the way for their submarine duty.
In 2014, the Navy first considered the feasibility of female sailors operating on submarines. In May this year, it gave some 50 female sailors a tour of a mid-class submarine to solicit their opinions.
Norway started putting female troops on submarine duty in 1985, becoming the first nation to do so.
Currently, 13 nations, including the US, Australia, Canada and Japan, have female submarine crewmembers.