The commander of U.S. submarine forces has said that the secret filming of female officers showering aboard a sub is a “breach of trust,” which “[goes] against every core value we hold sacred in our naval service,” in a letter to top naval commanders, cited by the Military Times.
Vice Admiral Michael Connor made the remarks in a communiqué to senior officers and commanders serving in the submarine fleet. "[The videos] are incredibly humiliating to the individuals victimized, and to every service member in our force, male or female," he added.
Connor's comments come after reports surfaced alleging that at least three female officers serving aboard the ballistic missile submarine USS Wyoming were clandestinely filmed while showering on the vessel, and that the videos were circulated among naval personnel.
In his letter, Connor also rejected the idea that the incident reflected any failure in the integration of female service personnel into the submarine fleet. “[Gender integration] has gone remarkably well,'' he wrote. "The performance of these women and the crews to which they are assigned has been remarkably successful."
Connor also stated that "an investigation [into the videos] is in progress," according to CNN. He also noted the women affected were provided assistance and the alleged perpetrators were removed from the ship pending the investigation's results.
Female officers have been serving aboard U.S. submarines since 2011, and the Navy plans to introduce enlisted female personnel into service on the fleet by 2020.
There are 59 female officers assigned to submarines across the entire force, according to a Navy spokesperson, cited by the Florida Times Union. Ballistic missile subs, such as the USS Wyoming, typically have crews of about 15 officers and 140 enlisted personnel with unisex heads in officers' quarters, the paper added.
News of the videos broke just hours before the Pentagon revealed that the number of U.S. military personnel reporting incidents of sexual assault had risen by 8 percent in 2014. The Pentagon said that the increase in the percentage of cases in 2014 did not signify an increase in the incidence of crime, citing that 4.3 percent of active-duty women said they were victims of sexual assault in 2014, down from 6.1 percent in 2012.
All branches of the U.S. military have come under increasing pressure in recent years to curb an institutional culture in which sexual assault often went unpunished.