Women to serve on British submarines: minister Women will be allowed to serve on British navy submarines, with female officers taking up roles from late 2013, defence minister Philip Hammond announced Thursday. The first officers will serve on Vanguard class nuclear-powered submarines and will be followed by women ratings in 2015, Hammond said. Women will also be able to serve on the new Astute class nuclear-powered submarines from about 2015. Britain is following in the footsteps of the United States, which last year lifted a ban on women serving on submarines. "We will change and adapt with the evidence and the circumstances. We will value our history and tradition -- but we will not be slaves to them," said Hammond during a speech in London. "In that spirit, I can announce today that I have accepted the recommendation of the First Sea Lord (the head of the navy) that women should be allowed to serve in submarines in the future." The decision follows an 18-month review by the navy. Women were previously excluded from serving due to concerns that high carbon dioxide levels in the onboard atmosphere posed greater risks to female health. But recent research by the institute of naval medicine concluded that the fears were unfounded.