• Germany edition
 
German of the Week
'I tend not to stand around in my underwear'
Janine Asseln at the Eckenförde navel base in Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: DPA

'I tend not to stand around in my underwear'

Published: 03 Apr 2014 14:55 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 Apr 2014 14:55 GMT+02:00

Since the beginning of the year, 27-year-old Asseln has held the role of fourth watch officer on the U-31 Delta.

She is the only woman in the German navy to be granted a commission on a submarine. Traditionally it was believed a female presence onboard brought bad luck.

“Anyone can handle being above water,” said Asseln, whose father and grandfather were both in the navy, and inspired her career choice. Only in Norway have female submarine officers started to become more the norm.

Growing up in Eckenförde in Schleswig-Holstein near the naval base she now works from, being on a submarine was, she said, always a dream of hers - but one which her mother and grandmother viewed with a little scepticism.

“They're all proud of me now,” she said, adding that her boyfriend was too. Asseln lives and works as the only woman alongside a team of 27 men.

Her boyfriend finds it tough, she said, when she's away for long stretches. “But he's completely behind me,” she said.

Like any member of the Delta crew, she had to earn respect from her submarine mates. “Of course they have a jab to see what you're made of,” she said, adding that everyone onboard “has to be able to do everything”. This requires a high level of ability.

For instance in an emergency, everyone needs to know which vents should be open or closed. For the most part, watch officer Asseln uses a periscope to keep an eye out above water, or help plan the route the submarine is taking.

But living onboard the submarine can be a bigger challenge than being an officer as there is very little space to move around in.

“I have more bruises than I could count in the beginning,” Asseln said.

As for being a woman, Asseln gets no special treatment. She has her bunk with the men and got used to it relatively quickly. “Everyone has their own sleeping bag,” she said, but she admitted there is nearly no privacy.

Asseln has a curtain to hang up when she gets changed and said she tends "not to stand around in my underwear”.

The Delta crew heads out on its next mission in May when it will make for England and then over to Norway. Asseln has already been out on one long deployment.

As it stands, she is set to stay part of the team for the next few years.

Hopefully like her, other women will also make their way underwater.

SEE ALSO: Germany fails to bridge gender pay gap

For more stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Second Ebola patient to arrive in Germany
Medical personnel practice containment procedures in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA

Second Ebola patient to arrive in Germany

A second Ebola patient is set to arrive in Germany from western Africa on Thursday night in Frankfurt. The city's University Clinic hopes to treat the NGO worker on its isolation ward. READ  

Germany ranks third in world university list
Students at Munich's LMU. Photo: DPA

Germany ranks third in world university list

German universities have shot up the world's leading higher education rankings, with Germany now having more institutions among the world's best than any other country after the US and UK. READ  

Expats in Berlin walk Wall for refugees
David Gordon Smith by a stretch of the Wall. Photo: Submitted

Expats in Berlin walk Wall for refugees

A group of expats will walk part of the route of the Berlin Wall on German Unity Day this Friday, almost 25 years after it fell, to raise money for refugees exactly a year after the Lampedusa tragedy. READ  

Rocket Internet shares disappoint on first day
It was more of a bear than a bull market for Rocket Internet co-founder Oliver Samwer (centre). Photo: DPA

Rocket Internet shares disappoint on first day

Start-up platform Rocket Internet entered the Frankfurt stock market on Thursday, in what was hailed as a milestone for German online firms, but the company's share price immediately fell by more than ten percent. READ  

How good is Germany for the elderly?
Photo: DPA

How good is Germany for the elderly?

A study comparing quality of life for older people around the world has ranked Germany 5th out of 96 countries. How good a place is Germany for the elderly? READ  

Cars set on fire across Berlin overnight
A burnt out car on Alten Jakobstraße, Kreuzberg, on Thursday morning.

Cars set on fire across Berlin overnight

Ten cars were set on fire across Berlin on Wednesday night and Thursday morning in the second night of disturbances in the city. READ  

Organized crime on the rise in Germany
Police escort a motorcycle gang in Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: DPA

Organized crime on the rise in Germany

Organized criminals are increasingly active in Germany, with the mafia as well as biker and international gangs making headway in the country, according to a government report. READ  

Nazi hunters find 80 living 'war criminals'
Jerusalem's Simon Wiesenthal Centre director Efraim Zuroff at the launch of a campaign to find remaining war criminals last year. Photo: DPA

Nazi hunters find 80 living 'war criminals'

The Israeli branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre on Wednesday urged Germany to prosecute alleged members of Nazi death squads during World War II, giving it a list of 80 suspects. READ  

The Local List
Eight expat groups to save you in Germany
Photo: Jan Perlich/Munich RFC

Eight expat groups to save you in Germany

Think you're the only English speaker in your town or region? Think again! The Local List this week runs through eight of the best expat groups and clubs in Germany. READ  

Victims of GDR regime get benefit boost
Former GDR political prisoners Hartmut (l) and Gerda Stachowitz in a East Berlin prison which has stood empty for 20 years. Photo: DPA

Victims of GDR regime get benefit boost

Benefit payments to former political prisoners of ex-communist East Germany (GDR) will be raised to send an "important message" 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the government said on Wednesday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Eight expat groups to save you in Germany
Munich
Bavarian independence becomes a reality... (online)
Photo: DPA/Police
National
'Criminals are at work in refugee homes'
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Immigrants have created how many German jobs?
Photo: DPA
National
Revealed: Germany's military feet of clay
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
Photo: Shutterstock
Society
Quiz: How good is your German?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Thousands take to Berlin's streets for marathon
Photo: DPA
Society
'Incest should be legal,' says ethics board
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten noises that sound very different in German
Photo: DPA
Society
QUIZ: Can you pass the German citizenship test?
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten German words you'll never want to hear again
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,163
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd