In the most recent scandal to rock our nations' military, three sailors in the U.S. Navy have been court martialed for sexual misconduct. The charges stem from allegations that the accused secretly filmed and disseminated videos of female officers and midshipmen showering aboard a nuclear ballistic missile submarine, the USS Wyoming.
The three sailors arraigned were a part of a group of seven sailors that have been referred for court martial in the case. All seven of the sailors stand accused of secretly recording their fellow crewmembers, all female, while deployed aboard the USS Wyoming. Additionally, they would reportedly then trade them among each other. When questioned about the existence of the videos the members of the group denied them ever having been filmed.
The proceedings for the three sailors were held last week near Jacksonville, Florida at Naval Station Mayport where the USS Wyoming is a part of a submarine fleet based there. According to the redacted charge sheets of the three suspects, the submarine was often deployed when the videos were taken over the span of a year from August 2013 to June 2014.
There were several female midshipmen reportedly filmed during the year-long period. Some were female students from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis aboard the submarine for their summer cruises, some of whom were possibly filmed, according to Navy officials close to the case. None of the videos have been found, according to reports.
At this time, it remains unclear how the videos were taken. Sleeping quarters for female crewmembers are separate from their male counterparts, but all crewmembers share shower facilities, albeit at designated times throughout the day.
The incident serves as a setback for the Navy, currently striving toward the integration of female servicemembers into its submarine branch. Stationed at the naval base in Kings Bay, Georgia, the USS Wyoming was on the very first submarines of its kind to integrate female officers into its ranks. Since the Navy began making a concerted effort to integrate female servicemembers into its ranks in 2011, the Navy's submarine branch has been one of the last groups within the Navy to remain largely restricted to male servicemembers.
At the end of 2014, there were fifty-seven female officers serving aboard fifteen Ohio-class submarines, like the USS Wyoming. Two female officers rotate for every submarine. Virginia-class submarines, fast attack submarines that are smaller than their Ohio-class counterparts, began receiving female officers at the beginning of 2015. Enlisted female servicemembers will begin integration into Ohio-class submarines in next year, while the integration for the smaller Virginia-class submarines is scheduled to begin in early 2020.
The Navy's investigation was initially directed toward twelve sailors on the USS Wyoming that it believed had either recorded or shared the videos of the female sailors. Of the initial twelve that were investigated, one was eventually dropped from the investigation, while the other 4 sailors not apart of the group that appeared in court last week are still waiting to hear the decision on their cases.
The three soldiers that appeared in court in Jacksonville last week were Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles Greaves, Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Bradley, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon McGarity.
Petty Officer Greaves, a former missile technician, had his hearing on Tuesday of last week. He stands accused of filming several videos of his fellow female servicemembers in the shower and then trading them for energy drinks and other goods to another of the accused sailors. While Petty Officers Bradley and McGarity, an electronics technician and missile technician, respectively, faced special and summary courts-martial the following day.
The Navy's goal in the long-term is for female servicemembers to comprise twenty percent of enlisted crewmembers aboard all its submarines.