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Spotlight on Women: Lt. Commander Amber Cowan

Last year there was another first for women in the Navy: Lt. Commander Amber Cowan became the first woman to serve as XO of a submarine when she joined the USS Kentucky as its executive officer in November of last year.


A woman standing before a submarine in a military uniform
Lt. Commander Amber Cowan (Photo Credit: US Navy)

Lt. Commander Amber Cowan grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado and graduated from the University of Washington. She joined the Navy in 2010 and attended the Nuclear Power School to become a submarine officer, which only opened to female officers in 2011. Cowan first served aboard the USS Maine in the engine room, serving as the main propulsion assistant, damage control assistant, and tactical systems officer. She later served on the USS Texas as the engineering officer and at the U.S. Submarine Forces Pacific Fleet as the force radiological controls officer.


It was not until 2015 that female enlisted sailors were also permitted to join the submarine forces. As of last year, female sailors, both enlisted and officers, serve on 28 operational submarine crews. Cowan was one of three female sailors on her first ship and one of ten that she joined the submarine officer corps with. As such, Lt. Commander Cowan continues to speak out and promote more woman bringing their talent to serve in the Navy and supporting diversity in her command.

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