Professor Elizabeth Reynard (later LT Reynard) came
up with the term Women Appointed for Voluntary
Emergency Service (WAVES). That term was later
changed to Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency
Service. The initials WR and the term Womens Reserve
were official, and some women preferred these terms to
the equally official, but less formal, term WAVES.
As the Womens Reserve observed its second
anniversary on July 30, 1944, it could look back upon a
brief but glowing record of expansion and achievement.
During its 2 years of existence, its members had freed
enough officers and men to crew a fleet of 10 battleships,
10 aircraft carriers, 28 cruisers, and 50 destroyers.
During World War II, WAVES were directly
eligible for 34 different ratings. They performed nearly
every conceivable type of duty at 500 naval shore
THE POSTWAR YEARS
Unlike the placid years following World War I, the
postwar period from 1945 to 1950 was a busy one. The
United States emerged from the war with an awareness
that it couldnt afford any major cutbacks in military
strength. The United States had become a nation
committed to trading with and protecting other countries.
The only way that responsibility could be discharged was
by the maintenance of a strong and ready Navy.
Navy women. Since the WAVES had proved their
worth during the war, the Navy was reluctant to give up
its programs for women. After the war, a number of
Navy women were retained in service. However, by the
fourth anniversary of the program, only 9,800 remained
on active duty.
The Womens Armed Services Integration Act,
Public Law 625, was passed by the Senate and the
House and signed by the President. It became law
June 12, 1948, marking another step forward. That was
perhaps the most significant milestone to date in the
history of women in the Navy. That act gave women full
partnership on the Navy team and abolished the
Womens Reserve. For the first time, women became a
part of the Regular Navy.
At the same time the Regular Navy opened to
women, the Reserves established a program for women
volunteers. The new laws authorized the transfer of all
members to appropriate components of the permanent
Antarctic exploration. Following World War II,
the U.S. Navy turned its attention once again to the
exploration of Antarctica. In 1946, Operation
Highjump got underway. Seaplanes flying from the
open sea and the airstrip at Little America photographed
the interior and coastline of the white continent.
Naval aviation. Naval researchers continued to
develop new, specialized ships and new planes capable
of providing swift aid to Allies in a world of uneasy
peace. All naval aircraft, featuring the most advanced
radar and sonar systems, were redistributed into patrol,
attack, and fighter squadrons.
Jet aircraft were perfected during the postwar years.
In June 1948, a squadron of FH-1 Phantoms qualified for
carrier operations aboard USS Saipan (CVL-48). Carrier
flight decks were redesigned to launch and recover jets.
Submarines and nuclear power. During this time,
the Navy was speeding development of the most
revolutionary advancement in the history of
submarinesnuclear power. Early in World War II, as
part of the Navys initial research on the atom, proposals
were made to develop atomic power for use afloat.
However, most of that work was diverted to
development of the atomic bomb.
Nuclear power was the long-awaited propulsion
source for the submarine. It turned the submersible
surface ship into a true submarine, capable of almost
indefinite operation. It was no longer bound to the
In September 1947, Captain H. G. Rickover
informally requested the first study of the application of
a high-pressure, water-cooled reactor for a submarine.
Personnel of the Daniels Pile Division at Oak Ridge,
Tennessee, undertook that study.
In January 1948, the Department of Defense
requested that the Atomic Energy Commission
undertake the design, development, and construction of
a nuclear reactor that would propel a naval submarine.
In December 1948, the Commission contracted the
Westinghouse Electric Corporation to develop design,
construct, operate, and test a prototype nuclear
propulsion plant. The outcome of those efforts was USS