Captain Amy Bauernschmidt has just become the first woman in history to command a United States aircraft carrier. There are only eleven aircraft carriers in the fleet and Amy, 51, is now commanding one of them.
In a recent interview with CNN, Amy said that it’s “easily one of the most incredible jobs in the world.”
Captain Amy Bauernschmidt First Woman To Command Aircraft Carrier
Amy will command the USS Abraham Lincoln, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier that weighs almost 100,000 tons. The carrier contains about five thousand crew members aboard and over sixty aircraft, including F-35C stealth fighters.
A U.S. Navy fact sheet says that aircraft carriers “are ready to control the sea, conduct strikes, and maneuver across the electromagnetic spectrum and cyberspace. No other naval force fields a commensurate range and depth of combat capabilities.”
Amy told the publication that “There’s absolutely no more humbling sense of responsibility than to know that I was selected to lead the men and women that have chosen (to) defend our nation.”
After growing up in Milwaukee, Amy said that she “swam and rowed competitively” before deciding to join the Navy.
“I came upon my service in a roundabout way,” she explained. “I knew I would be paying for my college education and I wanted to find a major I was not only interested in pursuing but would allow me to find a job to repay student loans.”
With an affinity for math and science, she decided to pursue ocean engineering in college. She studied at the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland.
Amy Bauernschmidt: ‘Didn’t Even Understand This Was An Option’
When Amy arrived in Annapolis to start school, she admitted that “I didn’t even understand this was an option when I first started on this adventure.”
It almost wasn’t an option. It wasn’t until November 1993 that Congress passed legislation that allowed women to serve on U.S. Navy combatant ships – six months before her graduation. For her first assignment a few months before she graduated, Amy requested aviation, where she learned how to fly helicopters, become a flight instructor, and even command a helicopter strike squadron.
She earned a Master’s degree in strategic studies from the Naval War College before she served in the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues. After that, she attended the Navy’s Nuclear Power School to learn the engineering behind naval nuclear power plants. The experience came in handy when she boarded the Lincoln, which is powered by two nuclear reactors.
In 2016, Amy became the executive officer, which meant that she was second in command. Five years later, she became the first woman in history to take command of the Abraham Lincoln.
‘I’ve had a phenomenal career where I’ve been given incredible opportunities’
Amy had nothing but positive things to say about her service, telling the outlet, “Each new job and opportunity strengthened my leadership, and challenged me to be the best version of myself.” She added, “I’ve had a phenomenal career where I’ve been given incredible opportunities.”
“Sometimes you will learn the most and grow the most in a situation or job you did not want to be in or to do,” she continued. “Not every job I’ve done in the Navy is a job I wanted, but I learned and took everything out of every job I could.”
However, even despite her success, there are still considerable hurdles for women in the Navy to overcome. As of December 31, CNN reported that only 20% of the Navy’s active duty of 342,000 personnel are women. Further Navy data shows that only 13% of 3,075 officers are women.
“While women have accomplished a lot, I look forward to the day we don’t have to celebrate firsts,” Amy added.