Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Easy Answer to Submarine Shortage or Exacerbation of Underlying Problem?

A perlexing story from Australia (Hat tip: The Sub Report) - Sinking feeling forces navy to recruit ...

Featured: "Leading Seaman Centa, a 25-year-old from Perth, is better off , sleeping in the submarine's only female six-berth cabin." The lady can handle herself: "She is one of only four women in HMAS Dechaineux's crew of 45. In 2003 the submarine almost sank as the result of a hose failure in the engine room - just one chapter in its chequered history."

Now, the real point of The Sydney Morning Herald story: "THE navy has such a shortage of engineers and marine and electronic technicians to crew its submarines, it has been forced for the first time to recruit straight off the street."

Can the lady do the job? Obviously yes. Should the lady do the job? Obviously yes, if male recruits are not volunteering in adequate numbers, but, the real question is why the males are demurring. Guess which happened first, women submariners or the current shortage of volunteers? Answer: Australia's first women submariners commenced training in 1998.

In a more telling story from The Age Company Ltd. [emphasis added]: "In a bid to ease problems recruiting submarine crews, the navy will introduce in July a system allowing civilians to apply to join the submarine arm directly. Until now submariners have been recruited from volunteer seamen and women in the navy."

Underlying pschology (Australia's potential male recruits): Why volunteer for forced celibacy in a job that females now do? Answer: The young males do not volunteer; glamour has been compromised. For married submariners, moreover, the divorce rate among submariners is huge - about 80 per cent, the Aussies report. Not everyone is happy. A male submariner states that the women are only being introduced for public-relations purposes.

The Australian Admiral behind this lunacy must be considered brilliant to defy not only history (often excusable), but human nature. Some would say male volunteers were down before 1998, and that would be correct, but only cyclical. Faced with a decision of how to attract needed recruits, the brass chose the manner that is most suspect for longterm benefit and will be the most costly to overcome. Well, we all make mistakes, don't we?


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