Page 3 Profile: Maxine Stiles, Alexandra Olson and Penny Thackray, Royal Navy Submariners


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The Independent Online

Take a deep breath…

The three lieutenants have made history by becoming the first women to serve in the Navy’s Submarine Service in its 110-year history.

About time, too!

Women were previously excluded from submarines because of health concerns regarding carbon dioxide but research showed these fears to be unfounded and the ban was lifted in 2011. During their training, the women conducted operations on nuclear-powered Vanguard-class submarine HMS Vigilant, passing their final exams with flying colours.

Do they like making waves in such a male-dominated sphere?

Lt Stiles, 29, of Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester, said of the training: “It’s very intense and challenging but that’s what makes it so rewarding. As long as you can do your job and you’re good at what you do, I don’t think they cared whether you were male or female.”

So will this inspire more women to consider joining the Service?

Lt Olsson hopes so. The 26-year-old, of Tranmere, Wirral, said: “Women are absolutely capable of doing this job. Change can always be a bit of a shock, but I look forward to seeing more women getting on board.”

Is life hard beneath the sea?

Lt Thackray, 39, of Hightown, West Yorkshire, said: “You limit your horizons. I just forget the outside; you get a whole new world.”