Navy Takes Pregnant Sailors From Carrier
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Five pregnant sailors have been removed from the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower, the first U.S. warship to set to sea with women as part of the permanent crew, the Navy said Friday.
Navy policy is to put women on shore duty once a pregnancy occurs, and the five sailors have left the ship over the past three months.
Some of the women may have been pregnant before the ship deployed from its home base at Norfolk, Va., on Oct. 20, 1994, said Cmdr. Steve Pietropaoli, a Navy spokesman.
Three of the women left the Eisenhower shortly after it set sail from Norfolk, and the two others left more recently, Pietropaoli said.
The aircraft carrier has been touring the Mediterranean in recent weeks and is currently on a port visit to Naples, Italy.
Among the ship’s crew of 5,000 sailors and pilots, about 450 are women. Their average age of carrier crew members is 19.
Overall, 27 men and eight women have been taken from the ship for ``unplanned ... medical reasons″ since it left Norfolk, Pietropaoli said.
The Navy does not normally track pregnancy rates, the spokesman said, but the Eisenhower has been asked to do so because of its status as the first combat ship to have women as part of the permanent crew.
Pietropaoli said he therefore couldn’t compare the Eisenhower’s pregnancy rate with rates on noncombat vessels such as oilers and supply ships.
``We don’t have good data on pregnancies at sea,″ he said.
Pietropaoli also said he could not disclose whether the women were married or single.
The Eisenhower is on a six-month deployment, and friends and spouses often travel overseas for visits when it is in port. The carrier had a port call in southern France over the Christmas holidays.
Defense Secretary William Perry said on CNN that the pregnancies should have no effect on the ship’s operations.
``Pregnancy is a fact of life, and it will happen a certain percentage of the time,″ Perry said. ``What I am concerned with, what personnel commanders have to be concerned with, is statistically, is that an important problem? Is it causing a significant degradation of readiness and duty? And the answer is _ absolutely not.″