Navy's new gender-neutral carriers won't have urinals
This is a Navy illustration of the Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, the first of the Ford class of carriers.
July 11th, 2012
01:47 PM ET

Navy's new gender-neutral carriers won't have urinals

[Updated at 6:17 p.m. ET] The U.S. Navy's new class of carriers will be the first to go without urinals, a decision made in part to give the service flexibility in accommodating female sailors, the Navy says.

The change heralded by the Gerald R. Ford class of carriers - starting with the namesake carrier due in late 2015 - is one of a number of new features meant to improve sailors' quality of life and reduce maintenance costs, Capt. Chris Meyer said Wednesday.

Omitting urinals lets the Navy easily switch the designation of any restroom - or head, in naval parlance - from male to female, or vice versa, helping the ship adapt to changing crew compositions over time, Meyer said.

The Navy could designate a urinal-fitted area to women, of course, but the urinals would be a waste of space. Making the areas more gender-neutral is a relatively new consideration for the service, with most of its current carriers commissioned before it began deploying women on combat ships in 1994.

But it wasn't the only reason for the move.

Urinal drain pipes clog more than toilets and therefore can be smellier and costlier to maintain, Meyer said.

"There's a lot more at play in the design objectives than (making the toilet areas) gender-neutral. We're saving money in maintenance costs, and we’re improving quality of life," said Meyer, manager of the Future Aircraft Carriers Program for the Naval Sea Systems Command.

Other quality-of-life updates, according to Meyer:

- Sleeping areas, or berthings, generally will be smaller, designed for fewer people per room. On current carriers, some berthings have more than 100 sailors each. On the Ford carriers, the number will be closer to 30 to 50 each.

- Heads will be attached to berthing compartments. Currently, many sailors have to traverse a passageway between a berthing and a head, meaning sailors who’ve just woken up have to dress up more for a trip to the head than they would if it were adjacent.

The new Ford-class features were first reported by the Navy Times.

Some sailors said that they're happy to lose the urinals because they're hard to clean and maintain, the Navy Times reported this week.

The Ford class is the future replacement for the Nimitz class. The Ford carriers are designed to allow more aircraft sorties, but with about 660 fewer crew members, according to the Navy.

The first three Ford carriers are scheduled to debut between 2015 and 2027, at a total projected cost of $37 billion. That cost includes non-recurring engineering expenses and research and development costs for the first carrier, the Navy says.

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Filed under: Military • U.S. Navy
soundoff (1,012 Responses)
  1. Richard

    Do the new csrriers have death rays, or something, that the old carriers don't? Will they be launching flying saucers instead of jets from them? If not, why do we need new carriers when we're only at war with some cave dwellers with sand in their underwear?

    July 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joel

      Are you still driving a Model T Ford? Come on, everything has a useful life and needs to be replaced.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. iammeyouareyou

    OOOh ! Oooh ! Inkow what to do next ! Let's put those grandma-crocheted fuzzy covers over the tolet paper rolls !

    Really? This is concern for the NAVY ?? I have been working in major office buildings for 20 years and have never seen a workplace bathroom without a urinal. THe ship is a workplace that is bigger than many office buildings. It should have urinals. Most employees (sailors) are still men. Too hard to clean? Please !! They are smooth and easy to clean a do NOT require bending down and under. What stupidity. Who's head (no pun intended !) will roll for this nonsense ???

    July 11, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      So, when planning for gender specific bathrooms, how can they know how many urinal equipped bathrooms they need versus the number of bathrooms that don't need urinals? You see, the question is not even relevant if you have gender neutral bathrooms.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      So the Navy does a study on space efficiency and ease of use, sailors with actual experience tell you that doing away with urinals will make their lives easier, and your response is "yeah, but my office building has them!" Alright. Your office building also doesn't have to float or shoot planes off the deck, so - I'm just going to throw this out there - maybe they aren't the same.

      Of course, maybe we should defer to your expertise. It sounds like you have a lot of experience scrubbing toilets.

      July 11, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      Did you READ the article? Flexibility and maintenance are key factors in this decision. Do you clean and maintain all those office urinals? No? Then you have no idea what it entails, so shush.

      July 11, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crocker

      And what are they gonna do with those warehouses full of urinal cakes? Otherwise known as Marine Corps breath mints....

      July 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mark

    wow, sounds very smart... i thought it was more of a utilitarian and convenience thing, but forget that, i mean who doesn't like to clean urine off toilet seats.

    July 11, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. adamthefirst

    This will be good news for the transgenders in uniform, hahaha!!! The military's a joke!

    July 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. wonhunglow

    sound like u got a biggun buddy!!!

    July 11, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crocker

      You been peeking again? Shame on you!

      July 12, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. wonhunglow

    The US military should be put into mothballz....all of it. This country has gone insane!

    July 11, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Highly Motivated

      That's right, all we need is one MIRV. Everything else is obsolete.

      July 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Biff

      And we'll leave the guardianship of this nation to you non military types? Turn the brain on before engaging the mouth.

      July 11, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. PushingBack

    Good because whoever decided that men should urinate in a group formation should be shot. The only thing worse than a urinal is the trough!

    July 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jmg

    Well, as a female Navy vet, wouldn't bother me if there were urinals in a bathroom designated for women. Folks need to get over it. I used to have to inspect berthing, male and female. As to having heads attached to berthing – on pretty much all the small ships that is the case and there were berthings on the TR where you could access the head without going into a common area. There were also many where it was across a passageway. The solution – wear a bathrobe to and from the shower. As an officer that's what we had to do since staterooms were from 2-6 people with heads located sometimes quite a distance away. You join the Navy (or any branch of the military) and you give up a lot of privacy.

    July 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      I don't think the concern is that the urinals in female bathrooms will bother anyone - it's just that it's a waste of valuable space.

      July 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. House

    What ever happened to just tinkling over the side?

    July 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elmeaux

      LMAO! Is "tinkling" an official Navy word?

      July 11, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • AgrippaMT

      The girls can't do that well. They'll end up getting the deck wet and then a jet might crash.

      July 11, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Xbonedriver

    What they NAVY isn't telling is that they had to increase the size of the waste plumbing to keep them from clogging due to the tampons (that aren't supposed to be there.)

    July 11, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. glenview0818

    Our tax dollars at work, urinals are cheaper to make, install and maintain, use less water per flush and can accommodate more people in a given amount of time. I hope this decision is not representative of other military decisions coming out of the Navy?

    July 11, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sickofitall

    so what happens when they leave the seat up now...

    July 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. EMan

    I'll tell ya..... this is the biggest news story of the year. We're gonna be hearing about this for weeks.

    July 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jack


    July 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. 2tor

    The next battle becomes, UP or DOWN?

    July 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
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