It is frequently the case that a ship is given the name of an individual as a honorarium. Names such as Campbell, Fletcher, Porter, and many, many others are accepted in kind. So when individuals are given the name of a ship, suddenly we take notice that something very remarkable is afoot. Such is the case of the surname Ganges. The story of how a family came to be named after a 26-gun sloop-of-war is one that upholds the finest traditions of the U.S. Navy.
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This year is the Year of the Military Woman, and the Naval History and Heritage Command would like to honor all the women who serve and have served this great nation. This Joint Resolution of Congress (1971) designated Women’s Equality Day. The date of August 26th was selected to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote.
Please help us highlight those who have gone before in this important matter. See http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq48-1.htm for options to highlight Women’s Equality Day.
On July 30, 1942 President Roosevelt signed into law the establishment of the WAVES (Woman Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). Establishing the WAVES was a lengthy effort. Inter-war changes in the Naval Reserve legislation specifically limited service to men, so new legislation was essential. The next few months saw the commissioning of Mildred McAfee, and several other prominent female educators and professionals, to guide the new organization. Just one year later in July 1943, 27,000 women wore the WAVES uniform.
The WAVES performed jobs in fields such as aviation, clerical, medical, communication, legal, intelligence, and science and technology. The wartime Navy’s demand for them was intense as it struggled to defeat Hitler and Mussolini in Europe and the Japanese in the Pacific. At the end of the conflict, there were well over 8,000 female officers and some ten times that many enlisted WAVES, about 2 ½ percent of the Navy’s total strength. In some places WAVES constituted a majority of the uniformed naval personnel and many remained in uniform to help get the Navy through, the post-war era. On June 12, 1948, President Harry Truman signed Public Law 625, the “Women’s Armed Services Integration Act”, which approved regular and Reserve component status for women in the military and disbanded the WAVES.
Women are an essential part of our nation’s military tradition. Throughout the U.S. Navy’s 238 years’ of history, its female Sailors have steadily integrated into jobs that were once opened only to males. Earlier this year, following a unanimous recommendation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Former Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced the end of the direct ground combat exclusion rule for female service members. As part of the new policy, the services are reviewing about 53,000 positions now closed by unit but that will be open to women who meet standards developed for the positions. Women make up about 15 percent, or nearly 202,400, of the U.S. military’s 1.4 million active-duty personnel. Over the past decade, more than 280,000 women have deployed in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 152 of them have died*. Today is a great day to celebrate the accomplishments of Women through our nation’s history.
*Pellerin, Cheryl (2013). Dempsey: Allowing Women in Combat Strengthens Joint Force. American Forces Press Service.
For more information on the history of women in the Navy, please visit the NHHC website: http://www.history.navy.mil/special%20Highlights/Women/Women-index.htm
On this date in 1898, Rear Admiral William T. Sampson’s squadron destroyed the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Santiago, Cuba. The article Sampson and Shafter at Santiago, by Commander Louis J. Gulliver, U.S. Navy, which detailed the battle and aftermath, was originally published in The Proceedings in June, 1939.
SAMPSON AND SHAFTER AT SANTIAGO
The inherent and ancient difficulties involved in joint operations of army and naval forces in war have never been more unhappily illustrated than in the war with Spain when army troops under General William R. Shafter, U. S. Army, encircled Santiago, and the Fleet commanded by Admiral William T. Sampson blockaded the port during the months of June and July, 1898. Here where success of joint action depended vitally on the sine qua non of swift and sure communications and the maximum in co-operation, one observes evidence of lamentably poor communications from shore to ship and vice versa, a condition that can be understood and partially excused. Not so easy to account for, however, are the relations-not making for co-operation that existed between General Shafter and Admiral Sampson. It is with these relations, as they are revealed in the communications between the two officers, that this article is concerned.
The question most likely to puzzle the reader as he examines the Sampson-Shafter communications, as each strove, for the most part at cross purposes with the other, to capture or destroy the enemy, is why the two commanders in chief neglected to employ the conference method for composing their radically differing opinions instead of standing apart and firing letters, telegrams, telephone messages, and bridge signals at each other. They conferred only once during the period of hostilities and then only for a short time on the day that Shafter arrived in Cuba, before co-operative joint action could be effectively got under way.
The reasons why the two commanders never conferred thereafter are not easy to understand. Only a few miles of relatively smooth water on which no enemy could threaten separated the General’s headquarters tent at Siboney on the coast and the Admiral’s blockading station outside Santiago. Conceivably, General Shafter could have come out to the flagship, though the boat trip for one of his reported excessive weight might be considered hazardous. Absences from the fleet to engage in conferences on shore were forbidden to Admiral Sampson at the outset by the exigencies of the situation; he never left the blockading line but once and that, the fates alone can explain, was on the morning of July 3, when he set out in the ‘ flagship New York for Siboney to confer with General Shafter. At that precise moment, the Spanish Admiral Cervera decided to lead his fleet out of Santiago Harbor.
May 28th, 1980
First women graduate from USNA
In October, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed a bill which included a mandate stating that the United States’ military academies were to begin admitting women in the fall of 1976. This full integration of the sevice academies required much forethought and preparation to ensure that female students would have the same experiences and opportunities as their male counterparts, but it was a landmark acheivement for women in the services. In April 1976, Proceedings incleded a special news release from the U. S. Naval Academy which detailed the many changes and considerations which had been made in anticipation of the incoming female midshipmen. The article also offered a view of what the lives of these female midshipmen would be like, from the extracurricular activities they would participate in to their living arrangements in Bancroft Hall, and even included a description of their uniforms and dress codes. Most importantly, the article noted the high hopes and expectations for these women midshipmen, which the fifty-five female graduates of the class of 1980 surely met.
As the U. S. service academies enter the country’s bicentennial year, they will end more than a century of male-only admission policies. Read the rest of this entry »
March 7th, 1994
The U. S. Navy issues first orders for women aboard a combat ship: the USS Eisenhower (CVN-69)
The U. S. Navy issued the first set of orders to women for duty aboard a combat ship, the USS Eisenhower (CVN-69) on March 7, 1994.
By June 25th, when this photo of a watertight door proudly labeled “FEMALE OFFICERS COUNTRY” was snapped as ‘A Sign of the Times’ eighty-seven women were aboard the ship as crew members, and approximately 500 women were expected aboard (as ship’s crew or members of an embarked air wing) by the following October for the next scheduled deployment.
Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels authorized the enlistment of women on 19 March 1917 to help alleviate a projected shortage of clerical workers. They served under Class 4 of the 1916 United States Naval Reserve Force that provided for the first enrollment or enlistment of officer and enlisted personnel. Loretta Perfectus Walsh of Olyphant, Pennsylvania, became the first woman to enlist on 21 March 1917. By the time war with Germany was officially declared on 6 April, 200 women had joined her.
To distinguish these women from their male counterparts the Navy established the rate of Yeoman (F), though they were also known as “Yeomanettes” or “Yeowomen.” Men and women in the same rank earned equal pay, something not available in the civilian sector. Unlike their male counterparts, the highest rank a Yeoman (F) could reach was that of chief petty officer. Since they did not receive basic training, these enlisted women took classes and learned how to drill in the evenings. They worked as couriers, draftsmen, fingerprint experts, masters-at-arms, mess attendants, paymasters, recruiters, switchboard operators, and translators. A select few worked overseas at base hospitals in France and in naval intelligence in Puerto Rico. Female reservists also participated in Victory Loan Drives and parades. By the signing of the 11 November 1918 armistice between the Allies and Germany, a total of 11,275 Yeomen (F) had served in the Navy. The last Yeoman (F) was discharged from active duty in July 1919.
March is Women’s History Month and NavyTV thought it would be appropriate to reintroduce the Navy’s top four Sailors in 2010 — the first time all four awardees were women! Meet HMC Ingrid J. Cortez, OSC Samira McBride, HMC Shalanda L. Brewer, and CTC Cassandra L. Foote, as they talk about their pride in their work and their responsibility to their Sailors here on NavyTV. In July, 2010, the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead presided over the pinning ceremony for the four Sailors of the Year, the first year all four awardees were women.