U.S. Sailors Made 'Rape List' Aboard Submarine That Integrated Women but Tolerated 'Lewd and Sexist' Comments: Investigation

USS florida submarine rape list sexism US Navy
This file photo shows the USS Florida sails during the "Giant Shadow" exercise on January 22, 2003 off the coast of the Bahamas. David Nagle/U.S. Navy/Getty Images

Sailors onboard a U.S. Navy submarine made a list ranking female crewmembers by their attractiveness and used it to share sexually explicit and lewd comments about them, an investigation found.

Crew aboard the guided-missile submarine USS Florida—only the second submarine to include female personnel—shared the "rape list" with one another while Navy leaders failed to address the concerns of the women.

Military.com revealed the investigation into the list through a Freedom of Information Act request. A 74-page document detailing the probe indicated that sexist and inappropriate behavior and comments "were tolerated, and trust up and down the chain of command was non-existent."

Women were integrated into the submarine's crew in February 2018, and by June advisers to commanding officer Captain Gregory Kercher had already warned him about the lists. One list ranked female crewmembers using a star system while a second contained sexual comments next to each name. Though the lists included suggestions of aggressive sexual activity, Military.com noted they did not include mentions of rape.

Rear Admiral Jeff Jablon, who then served as commander of Submarine Group 10 and as Kercher's superior, wrote to his superior officer about the Florida. He said: "Rumors of a 'rape list' were promulgated throughout the crew, significant numbers of females became concerned for their safety, and male members who learned of the list were equally repulsed." Jablon added: "Very few knew what limited action was being taken by the [command]."

The investigation noted that while Kercher ordered a search to identify those reading and sharing the list, he did not open a formal investigation and did not inform his superiors of the list's existence.

Kercher was eventually removed from his post in August after serving only five months, because his superiors lost confidence in his ability to lead, Military.com reported.

"Although he took some action in response to the list, there is no question that those minimal actions fell far short of expected standards and norms for an event of this magnitude," Jablon said.

The list originated among one of the Florida's two crews: the 173-strong Gold crew, which included 32 women. The investigation noted that a Florida sailor printed the first list on June 3, 2018, and gave it to a female petty officer the following day.

Ten days later, the same man printed the second list and gave it to the same female officer. He said the lists were stored on the submarine's computer network and were updated regularly.

The female petty officer gave photos of the lists to the male chief of the boat—the senior enlisted adviser to the commanding officer—who passed the report up the chain to Kercher, who began investigating their origin but did not open a formal probe. At one point, Kercher told the male chief to "slow down" because he was becoming too involved in the investigation, the report said.

Kercher was reportedly unable to locate the lists on the submarine's system, even with the help of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which ran forensic tests on the network. As rumors spread, Kercher failed to explain what was being done to find the lists and curb their spread.

"Junior sailors do not feel safe knowing that the command has done 'nothing' to try to actively find out who has written or added to the list," the report said. One woman aboard even told investigators she thought her superiors "had forgotten about the list a long time ago."

The female petty officer, not trusting that the male officers aboard were doing enough, then began to send images of the lists to her boyfriend and family back home, as well as to a senior chief at the Florida's home port in Kings Bay, Georgia.

Recommending Kercher's removal from his post, Jablon wrote: "Only after being formally approached by a female petty officer...several weeks after the discovery of the list, did Captain Kercher recognize that additional actions were warranted."

Navy officials told Military.com that at least two sailors aboard the Florida have now been separated from the military, while an undisclosed number have faced other punishments relating to the lists.

This story has been updated to credit Military.com as the source.