SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s Navy has started a process to select its first female submarine sailors, officials said Tuesday, in a move to widen their roles amid concerns about possible troop shortages caused by the country’s low birthrate.
The armed service announced a staffing policy change last year to allow female service members to join the submarine crew — a decision facilitated by its acquisition of a larger-size submarine.
Last Thursday, the Navy’s headquarters instructed its units to begin the selection process for six positions, including four noncommissioned officers.
It plans to receive applications for the positions by the end of next month and choose six personnel by June, according to the officials.
The Navy plans to assign the selected sailors to start serving on a 3,000-ton submarine in the first quarter of 2024 after they complete a basic education program by early January.
They will include two lieutenant or lieutenant junior grade rank officers and four noncommissioned officers aged 35 or under, according to an informed source.
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.