Reprinted from The Washington Times , 5am -- March 23, 1998

Navy says all hands on deck must be clothed

By Rowan Scarborough

Sailors, now hear this: "No nude sleeping."
The Navy isn't announcing the rule over a ship's intercom. But it has inserted the warning in a new list of rules for proper comportment as more women join the fleet and combat ships welcome female crew members for the first time.
     The changes to a vessel's Standard Organization and Regulation Manual (SORM) were sent to ships' captains in December by Vice Adm. Henry C. Giffin III, commander of surface ships in the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. A copy was obtained last week by The Washington Times.
     Among the steps to good manners:

  • "Appropriate sleeping attire, i.e., shorts and T-shirts; no lingerie or nude sleeping."

  • "Coed heads locked during use. Single heads within berthing compartments, time-share signs."

  • "[Make it a] policy not to be behind locked doors with member of the opposite sex."

  • "Pornographic movies prohibited."

  • "Inspection of property includes purses and handbags."

  • "Determine swimsuit and sunbathing policies for 'steel beach' and swim call."

  • A dress code defining "appropriate dress ... tights/leggings, halters, dresses, shorts, high heels, stockings etc."

     A Navy spokesman at the Pentagon said Adm. Giffin recommended the rules based on "feedback from the fleet on the programs and policies that have led to the successful integration of women so far. They're learning from experience."
     Concerning the "no nude sleeping" rule, the spokesman said commanders want to ensure that crew men and women are clothed properly when rousted from their bunks in the dead of night for an emergency drill. He said he knew of no instance of a sailor showing up nude to a drill.
     Said the spokesman, "In the middle of the night, when there is a 'man-overboard' drill, you've got to get out of your bunk immediately. What we're finding in the middle of the night, some guys come up in shorts without T-shirts on. So [the new rule] was easier to save time and embarrassment."
     He said the no-pornographic-movie rule is meant to stop the showing of X-rated videos in areas used by both sexes. He said a group of male sailors could still watch such films in a private area.
     "We've learned that it's inappropriate to have pictures on your desk or pictures up in your work place that would be offensive," the spokesman said. "We say, 'Respect everyone's dignity.'"
     Adm. Giffin's list adds to existing rules of behavior that, for example, prohibit sexual harassment and sexual relations aboard ship.
     The Navy in 1995 began assigning women to combat ships like destroyers and aircraft carriers. Women have served on support ships like tenders and oilers since the late 1970s.
     Its goal is to put as many as 500 women on a 5,000-man carrier. The intimate nature of shipboard life requires strict rules of conduct, the Navy says, to ensure the sexes don't tread on each other's space.
     Of 51,337 Navy women, 9,497 are now assigned to ships. All vessels are open to women except submarines, anti-mine ships and coastal patrol boats.
     The Navy says that this year and next, 23 more ships will be built or modified to accommodate female sailors.
     "The mood toward gender-integration on the Norfolk [Va.] waterfront, as far as surface ships are concerned, it's almost like it's not there anymore," said Cmdr. John Singley, spokesman for Atlantic surface forces in Norfolk. "It's seamless. When you walk on the ships and see women in leadership, it doesn't strike you as being different anymore."

Copyright 1998 News World Communications, Inc.

Reprinted with permission of
The Washington Times.

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