Lord Hamilton 1 - Physical jobs onboard ships

    Lord Archie Hamilton

    Name: Lord Archie Hamilton

    Position: Minister of State for the Armed Forces 1988 - 1993

    Lord Hamilton was appointed the Minister of State for the Armed Forces in 1988. It was his job to find a solution to the recruiting problems that the Navy was facing at this time. The number and quality of male recruits was falling. At the same time recruiters were turning away capable women because they couldn't go to sea.

    Lord Hamilton visited many British warships seeking solutions. He saw that women were capable of performing the same roles as men. In February 1990 he announced to the House of Commons that members of the WRNS would be permitted to serve at sea.

    One of the most common worries connected to having women serving at sea was that they were not strong enough to do certain jobs. In this clip Lord Hamilton explains how these problems were resolved.


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    Extract Text (Duration0.25)

    When you said, "What jobs are you doing on this ship that a women couldn't do?" the answer used to come back after a rather long pause, "re-provisioning the ship," so I used to say, "Well what does that entail?" and they used to say, "Well we have to carry hundred weight bags of potatoes down the gangways and into the galleys, and this involves a tremendous amount of strength and women wouldn't be able to do it." Well that did continue to be one of the things that women, when they did go to sea, had to do and they hacked that one quite easily by actually packing the potatoes into half hundred weight sacks instead of hundred weight sacks, so that is how we got around that. You've got to bear in mind that on a modem warship these days, shells aren't being put into massive guns, the weapons systems on ships are missiles and if you want to fire a missile, you look on your radar screen and press the button, you don't actually have to be a man to be able to do that.


    Physical jobs onboard ships

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    Sailors thought it an outrageous idea

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    There were always going to be problems

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    It was a political decision based on lack of good men

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    Were you nervous making such a big decision?

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    Was it the right decision?

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