Navy Names Submarine Force’s First Female ‘Chief of the Boat’

Master Chief Informations Systems Technician Angela Koogler has spent a week on USS Louisiana (SSBN-742) making history. Koogler is the Navy’s first female chief of the boat — the senior enlisted advisor to the commanding and executive officers aboard a submarine. She joined the Navy in 2002, after attending college, according to a release from […]

U.S. Navy Master Chief Information Systems Technician Angela Koogler poses for a portrait aboard the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN-743) on Aug. 26. US Navy Photo

Master Chief Informations Systems Technician Angela Koogler has spent a week on USS Louisiana (SSBN-742) making history.

Koogler is the Navy’s first female chief of the boat — the senior enlisted advisor to the commanding and executive officers aboard a submarine.

She joined the Navy in 2002, after attending college, according to a release from U.S. Pacific Fleet Submarine Forces Commander. She had planned to enlist after high school but an injury delayed her.

“Once I joined, I knew I found my career, and my Navy family and friends that I would have forever,” Koogler said in the release. “I have continued to serve over the years because it is a good fit for me and I love it.”

Women have served in the Navy since 1917, when Loretta Walsh became the first women to enlist. But integrating the Navy took time with women unable to join service academies until 1976 and combat positions until 1994.

Submarines have been one of the last to take on women. Female officers first started service in 2010. In 2015, 38 women were selected to serve aboard USS Michigan (SSGN-727) as the first enlisted sailors, starting in 2016, USNI News previously reported.

Koogler was one of the 38, according to the release. She served 36 months before doing at tour with Submarine Squadron 19.

Just making women be able to serve on submarines meant revisions had to be made to Ohio-class submarines so that women would have their own space, according to the Navy. Virginia-class and Columbia-class submarines designs already include female and male living spaces. The inclusion of women into the submarine force has had problems. In 2014, the Navy found 12 male sailors aboard USS Wyoming (SSBN-742) had viewed an illicitly made recording video of female officers showering aboard. 

While Koogler has served only three years on a submarine, Submarine Squadron 19’s Command Master Chief Travis Brown said in the release that he knew she was the right candidate for chief of the boat.

“In 36 months, she walked off a submarine as a qualified diving officer of the watch, and everything in between, while also learning how to lead submarine sailors,” Brown said in the release.

For Koogler, chief of the boat is a stepping stone for her career. Her ultimate goal is to be a command master chief, which required her to be a chief of the boat first.

Gold crew of the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN-743) arrives home to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash. US Navy Photo

“I knew that was what I wanted to do,” she said in the release. “I want to be able to take care of sailors. I want them to develop and accelerate themselves. It’s kind of always been my goal.”

Koogler said in the release that gender should not be a factor in deciding which sailors are selected for roles.

“A sailor is sailor to me and we shouldn’t have to define their gender,” she said in the release. “It’s important to integrate everybody and it shouldn’t matter as long as they get the job done.”

It can be difficult to be the person breaking such a barrier, Brown said, acknowledging that Koogler needed a nudge.

“But this is a huge glass ceiling busted in the submarine force,” he said. “Now there’s a path to the top.”