The first U.S. women to serve on submarines will report for undersea duty in less than two years, a top admiral said Thursday, as the Navy ended one of the military’s few remaining gender barriers.

Rear Admiral Barry Bruner said the Navy hopes its first group of 24 female submarine officers will begin training by summer. They should be ready to join the sub fleet late next year or by early 2012.

The U.S. military’s ban on women serving on submarines passed quietly into history after the Navy received no objections from Congress. Rear Adm. Bruner announced the expected timeline at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in coastal Georgia.