Female US Navy sailors 'were secretly filmed in submarine showers'

Report alleges at least three female officers were taped at various times over the period of a year

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The Independent US

A criminal investigation has been launched following allegations that at least three female officers were secretly filmed showering and changing aboard a US Navy submarine.

The incidents are alleged to have taken place on ballistic missile submarine the USS Wyoming, which is based in Kings Bay, Georgia, over a period of a year.

US Navy officials have confirmed that no one has been taken into custody, but a report filed last month alleges that the recordings may have been distributed to other crew members.

The report also claims that the recordings took place in the boat's unisex bathrooms.

According to CNN, Navy Vice Adm. M.J. Connor stated in a letter that "an investigation is in progress." He said that the women affected were receiving assistance and that the alleged perpetrators had been removed from the ship pending the results of the probe.

"Incidents that violate the trust of our sailors go against every core value we hold sacred in our naval service," he wrote. "We go to war together with the confidence that we can rely on each other in ALL circumstances, and incidents of sailors victimizing other sailors represent an extreme breach of that trust!"

Women were first deemed eligible to serve on submarines in December 2011, and the USS Wyoming - which holds 135 people - was one of the first to host female officers. Mr Connor wrote that integration had made the US Navy "unequivocally... a better force". Women are expected to be integrated on fast-attack submarines for the first time in January, when female officers will be assigned to the USS Virginia and USS Minnesota.

Service spokeswoman Lt. Leslie Hubbell confirmed in a statement that the US Navy was aware of allegations of alleged criminal activity and was investigating. "If the allegations prove to be factual, the Navy will ensure individuals involved are held accountable for their actions," she added.

It comes as the number of reported sexual assaults in the US military rose by eight per cent this year to 5,983.

"Given the under-reported nature of sexual assault, the department believes this increase in reporting is likely due to greater victim confidence in the response system," the report said.

While the total number of overall troops who said they had experienced unwanted sexual contact fell - from 26,000 two years ago, to 19,000 in 2014 - almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of those who reported sexual assault admitted they had faced retaliation.

Of those 19,000 people, around 10,500 were men and 8,500 women, according to the anonymous survey conducted by the Pentagon.

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said a three-year crackdown on sexual assault was showing "real progress" but there was still "a long way to go".

He said that the issue of retaliation should be tackled "head on", adding: "When someone reports a sexual assault, they need to be embraced and helped, not ostracised or punished with retribution.''