• 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
German Muslims rally against extremism
Muslims pray in Kreuzberg, Berlin, on Friday outside a mosque which was damaged in an arson attack. Photo: DPA

German Muslims rally against extremism

Muslims across Germany held a day of prayers and rallies on Friday to condemn both Islamic extremism and a backlash against their faith that has seen arson attacks on mosques. READ  

German military flight to Iraq starts with a hiccup
The trainers on the air strip in Hohn, Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: Bundeswehr.

German military flight to Iraq starts with a hiccup

Military trainers flew to northern Iraq from Germany on Friday, ahead of a huge delivery of weapons from the German military, but things didn’t initially go as planned. READ  

Munich gets four Euro 2020 matches
Photo: DPA

Munich gets four Euro 2020 matches

UPDATE: Munich will play host to four Euro 2020 games, European football’s governing body Uefa announced in Geneva on Friday, but London was the real winner. READ  

Driver, 18, ploughs into school pupils
The scene by the bus stop outside the school in Diepholz. Photo: DPA

Driver, 18, ploughs into school pupils

An 18-year-old drove into a group of students outside a school in western Germany on Friday morning, injuring several. READ  

View from Germany
'In a globalized world we don't need more loners'
'No' campaign supporters celebrate in Edinburgh after the results were announced. Photo: DPA

'In a globalized world we don't need more loners'

UPDATE: The German government welcomed the result of the Scottish independence referendum on Friday, with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier calling it the "right decision". READ  

Oktoberfest 2014
Your guide to Munich Oktoberfest's beer
Photo: DPA

Your guide to Munich Oktoberfest's beer

The Local's Oktoberfest guide chugs some of the Bavarian tipple fueling this whole shindig. READ  

Berlin squat ripped apart by fire
Kreuzberg's Cuvrybrache. Photo: DPA

Berlin squat ripped apart by fire

UPDATE: One of Berlin’s biggest squats was torn apart by a fire on Thursday night following an argument. READ  

Sterilized woman gets pregnant, sues doctors
Photo: DPA

Sterilized woman gets pregnant, sues doctors

A woman who gave birth after becoming sterilized has tried and failed to sue the hospital which carried out the operation. READ  

Thousands queue for Apple's iPhone 6
Queues outside the Apple Store in Dresden. Photo: DPA

Thousands queue for Apple's iPhone 6

UPDATE: Apple’s new iPhone 6 went on sale on Friday morning, leading to long queues outside stores across Germany. Berlin's Apple Store sold out of the iPhone 6 Plus in an hour. READ  

Blitzmarathon
Pupils catch teacher and mum speeding
A camouflaged speed camera in Schleswig-Holstein on Thursday. Photo: DPA

Pupils catch teacher and mum speeding

UPDATE: A nationwide operation against speeding drivers ended on Friday morning, with police hailing their "Blitzmarathon" as a success. One child in Düsseldorf caught his own mother driving too fast, while another driver hit 238 km/h. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Culture
Your guide to Munich Oktoberfest's tents
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
Drunk teachers ruin school trip to Hamburg
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Fashion Ladies of the Local: Win a New Autumn Look
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Oktoberfest 2014: The best and worst in dirndl fashion
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten German words you'll never want to hear again
Photo: DPA
Education
German universities tumble in global rankings
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
The three types of firms hiring foreigners
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Frisky couple shock Berlin commuters
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
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

3,371
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd