Facebook’s chief operating officer and women rights activist Sheryl Sandberg was picked by the U.S. Navy as sponsor of a new submarine. The move is highly unusual since ship sponsors are usually wives or daughters of officers or politicians associated with the Navy.
According to Navy’s traditional wisdom, ships are christened by women and sponsors usually transmit the vessels their personality. Sandberg will pass on her personality to a last-gen Virginia-class attack submarine called the USS Massachusetts. Secretary of the Navy’s office recently said that the move was designed to get the U.S. public closer to their Navy.
Yet, Sandberg is not a total stranger to the U.S. navy. She first used her popular phrase ‘lean in’ at the U.S. Naval Academy in 2011. Since then, she even wrote a book with the same title and conducted campaigns to empower women at their workplace.
Sandberg lauded Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who made the announcement about her sponsoring the submarine, for his decision to triple maternity leave to 18 weeks this summer. The two even had several encounters since her 2011 speech including Mabus’ visit to Facebook headquarters.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal noticed that the latest Navy pick for submarine sponsor highlights a new direction into Navy’s future. Sandberg is the first woman to be chosen a sponsor for her achievements rather than for being the wife or partner of a man.
“She really has come to epitomize a successful empowered woman,”
Sen. Blumenthal noted after the announcement was made on Wednesday.
Sandberg is also the promoter and funder of small non-for-profits also known as ‘lean-in’ circles that promote women’s empowerment. The Department of Defense adopted these groups and plans to activate them in the military.
In the past, Facebook COO criticized the military for racial and sexual discrimination. Two months ago, she urged military leaders to make sure that equality prevails.
Since Sandberg is the USS Massachusetts’ sponsor, she would be the public face for the ship as long as it lasts. This is how other young women could be inspired to opt for a career in tech or science.
Until 2010, women were banned from serving on Navy submarines.
The new attack submarine is slated to be built in 2017 in Rhode Island, while the assembly work would be carried out in Virginia. The submarine is expected to be fully operational in 2022.
Other high-rpofile women were chosen to sponsor U.S> Navy ships including Michelle Obama who sponsored the USS Illinois battle ship, while Laura Bush was picked to sponsor the USS Texas.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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