The Royal Navy has launched an investigation into allegations of bullying, misogyny and sexual harassment against women within the Submarine Service.
Lewd behaviour and abuse is said to have been rife in the service since the ban on female recruits was lifted in 2011.
One whistleblower, a former lieutenant, told the Daily Mail that submariners kept a “crush death rape list” which ranked women in the order they should be raped in the event of a catastophic incident.
The woman also claimed that a senior officer abused her by putting his genitals in her pocket, licking her ear and punching her, while another posted 50p coins into her cabin and told her she should perform sexual favours in return. She also claimed one man assaulted her while she slept.
She said women were regularly screamed and shouted at and called c***s, and engineers regularly sniffed women’s washing.
Admiral Ben Key, the First Sea Lord and chief of naval staff, called the alleged behaviours “abhorrent” and said he was “deeply disturbed” by the claims.
He said: “I want to reassure our people, and anyone who is reading this, that any activity which falls short of the highest of standards the Royal Navy sets itself is totally unacceptable and not a true reflection of what service life should be.
“Sexual harassment has no place in the Royal Navy and will not be tolerated.
“I have directed my senior team to investigate these allegations thoroughly. Anyone who is found culpable will be held accountable for their actions regardless of their rank or status.“
My response to recent allegations in the press on inappropriate behaviour in the Submarine Service: pic.twitter.com/HYQJklPjEk
— First Sea Lord (@FirstSeaLord) October 28, 2022
The whistleblower told the Daily Mail that she was discouraged from reporting the behaviours by a more senior individual.
“He said, ‘we can do something about it. But you need to understand if we report this, he will be removed from the boat, and this will generate press interest’,” she claimed. “I just thought I don’t want to be the centre of any scandal.
“I was nearly the first female commander of a submarine in the world. I was the first female to have charge of a dived sub in the world. But from day one I had no support.”
She claimed that there was “toxic” leadership within the Submarine Service.
“You can’t say I’m not happy with someone’s behaviour. You can’t send an email. For that time they are God to you. They control whether you sleep, eat, they control everything. They would use that as a tactic of bullying,” she told the newspaper.
The source left the Navy when she was investigated and court-martialled for sharing sensitive information about her submarine’s movement. She resigned from her position in January but was formally dismissed in June and handed a suspended four-month prison sentence.
Another whistleblower, who previously served in a senior position, said: “It is not an equal service. The women are constantly pestered for sex, they are seen as legitimate targets.
“I saw women being called c***s and splits. I saw all the women break down at some point or another. And these are pretty tough women.
“One was given the nickname ‘menstrual’ by a superior because she cried. They are not covering themselves in glory.”