The Navy retains female sailors at half the rate it holds on to men. One result is it doesn't have enough senior enlisted women on some ships stationed overseas.

The Navy's top commander for personnel says the service has repeatedly learned problems develop if a ship has many junior enlisted females but no senior enlisted women on board to mentor them.

Vice Adm. William Moran told reporters during a visit to Pearl Harbor on Thursday he thinks the fundamental reason is that women want to start families and need more time to do so. He says this often makes women choose between staying in uniform and starting a family.

The Navy currently offers women six weeks of paid maternity leave.

Moran wants to improve the retention rate for all female sailors.