The number of sexual assaults reported to the Navy has grown 50 percent over the last year, according to an official.
In 2012, there were 726 sexual assaults. At the current rate, they are expecting 1,100 reports by the end of the 2013 fiscal year.
The Navy released the report Wednesday after Rear Adm. Sean Buck, the Navy’s top sexual assault prevention and assault officer, gave a press conference in Norfolk, Va.
Buck said the increase is a sign that sailors are more comfortable reporting the crime and believe something will be done.
In May, the Department of Defense released a report estimating that 26,000 service members were the victim of assault in 2012. At that time, however, only 2,949 sexual assaults had been officially reported through the DOD.
"We would like that needle to move tomorrow, or this afternoon. But the sense is you need to be able to allow some programs to be put into place to mature, to be talked about and to be acted upon," Buck told reporters at Naval Station Norfolk.
The Navy has focused on education and awareness when it comes to cracking down on sexual assault, according to Yahoo!. Buck believes it’s those efforts that have increased reporting.
"What we're trying to do is close that gap between anonymous surveys where sailors say that they've been victims of sexual assault in their past to those sailors that actually come forward to report," he said. "The initial goal is to close that gap to where the number of reports actually equal the number of survey responses and then ultimately to have both of those numbers decline down to zero."
Sexual assault response coordinators, mostly civilians, are working on bases to make sure victims have access to counseling, medical treatment and other support services. These coordinators have trained more than 2,000 commanders in their role in response to sexual assault.
Officials recently announced that it will change the way alcohol is sold on bases as part of its sexual assault prevention efforts.
Buck said sailors have reacted positively to their efforts.
"They're appreciative of the attention from senior leadership and they're also very aware of how broad the topic is being discussed in the Navy now, from the workplace all the way up to the Pentagon, all the way up to Capitol Hill," he said.