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Ban on women serving on US submarines lifted

WASHINGTON (AP): The US military's ban on women serving on submarines has passed quietly into history.

Secretary of Defence Robert Gates notified lawmakers in mid-February that the Navy would be lifting the ban, unless Congress took some action against it. And Navy spokesman Lt Justin Cole said Thursday that the deadline for Congress to act passed at midnight.

The Navy plans a press conference later Thursday to talk about the new policy.

"There are extremely capable women in the Navy who have the talent and desire to succeed in the submarine force," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said hours after the congressional deadline passed.

"Enabling them to serve in the submarine community is best for the submarine force and our Navy.

"We literally could not run the Navy without women today," Mabus said in a statement released by the Submarine Force headquarters.

The Navy expanded the number of assignments available to women 15 years ago, allowing them to serve on surface ships but deeming that their service on submarines would cost too much.

In preparation for changing the old policy, the Navy has worked out a plan to phase in women by allowing them to begin serving on submarines that will not require costly alterations to accommodate females.

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