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. Andrew

    The Ford will also be able to launch and recover aircraft simultaneously. There has to be a bathroom joke somewhere in there! I just know it!

    July 12, 2012 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
  2. Shawn Irwin

    This is a typical brainless military decision. I'm sure the men will not have much of a problem with it, but the women will when they discover how many men will releave themselves without lifting the lid . . . so the women will end up sitting in urine. Just figure that there are about 20% that are to lazy to lift the lid, and that is probably a pretty close to actual occurrence.

    July 12, 2012 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  3. Darius

    This is just plain stupid. Why to remove those urinals? As a man I find using them the best for No1. I'm even thinking of installing in my bathroom. I really do not understand why to pleas some stupid ideas at the expense of men health. Yes that is right, there is no way I am going to sit down for any reason in the public toilet. I prefer using damn urinal instead – time and effort efficient, cleaner and healthier.

    July 12, 2012 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff

    The people Gerald Ford represented in Congress voted for him, before he was appointed to elected office of the vice president before narrowly losing to Jimmy Carter. The rest they say is history.

    July 12, 2012 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
  5. Don

    ***Female hero (Liberal media)
    Jessica Lynch. 4-2-2003. NY times, Post,Newsweek, "Lynch as Rambo" Fight to death, shot and stabbed. (Not stabbed or shot. Injuries and unconscious, in accident. Did not fire her weapon.)

    Kimberly Munley ft. hood heroine. Hailed by Liberal media as a heroine for bringing down Nidal Hasan.
    (Actually Mark Todd shot him.)

    Time to crawl out of your phantasy bubble and realize that females should not be allowed in combat and police patrol vehicles.They are not physically and mentally capable of being in violent areas. (Despite liberal/hollywood's indoctrination.) 

    July 12, 2012 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
    • S Adams

      Yeah Don you keep believing that, i served with many women, and ill tell you what, you NEED women on the Battlefield! We men are WAY to impulsive, gun-ho and generally idiotic to be left to our own devices. My cousin just returned from Iraq and married the WOMAN who saved his life when their convoy got ambushed by fighters and IED's. Get out there and serve with a few before you lob insults from your computer chair!

      July 12, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      How are you able to write your comment? There were no personal computers or internet back there in the 1950s where you apparently got left behind.

      July 12, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. mairez

    sitting while using "the head" is de rigueur on boats/ships – it's a safety issue – EVERYONE sits on our boat. plus it's much cleaner.

    July 12, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  7. mike

    not a bad idea but why is this news again ?

    July 12, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  8. DC

    Come on people, this is a non-story. Having just one kind of toilet saves money and allows flexibility in assigning restrooms based upon ship's demographics.

    July 12, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  9. PeteInOhio

    Seriously? Now there will be a bunch of complaining about guys peeing on the toilet lids!

    July 12, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      Exactly what will happen. I'm not usre about you, but I personally don't want to sit in your pee.

      July 12, 2012 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jack

    Every time I head a woman complain about the commode seat being left up, I can't help but think – somewhere out there, there's a woman who failed to properly toilet train her son. I trust the Navy will train its young men and women how to use a commode. A commode has only one mode of operation: sitting down on the seat (not standing, not hovering above the seat). The seat does lift, but that's for cleaning. That's how it works, folks. I realize some families failed to make the full transition from outhouse to bathroom, but it IS the 21st century. It's time.

    July 12, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      They should make this a Federal law.

      July 12, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Only a guy who pees sitting down would try to lecture people on the internet to use the bathroom the way his mommy taught him. In my family my wife taught my daughter and I just taught my son. He uses the toilet properly like a man and he's only 2.

      July 12, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. David

    This was DEFINTELY disigned by a man. No woman wants to SIT where a man just STOOD and peed. Actually, I don't either.

    July 12, 2012 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
  12. yupitsme1234

    Well now there is going to be pee on the seat!

    July 12, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. S Adams

    I was stationed on the USS Dwight D Eisenhower CVN-69 for the first Mediterranean Tour that they allowed women on the boat for. Boy oh boy was that a disaster!!! For soooo many reasons but the most obvious was how many pregnancies happened. It was a bit of a black eye for the Navy, I know of at least 20 or so female sailors shipped home because of pregnancy. The news called our carrier all sorts of nasty things, including the largest floating nursery in the world. While it takes two to tango, it definitely was a problem. I have friends that are still in the Navy and they say that both regulations and tolerance have gotten worlds better, but that first tour was a nightmare.
    As to them making the bathrooms gender neutral, I think it’s a great idea. When I was on the Ike from 94-97 the urinals were definitely a pain in the a$$, they did clog allot, overflow, and smell. Trust me you could get several p-ways away and know that you had to find another head.
    And as for the improved sleeping areas, this might be my favorite idea. While on my ship it was crowded at times, it was manageable. But let a general quarter’s sound and things got interesting space wise to say the least. The fact that these new boats will be 10% larger by volume but utilize nearly 700 less crew is amazing! I just hope I can still get into Norfolk when they are ready for a tour!!

    July 12, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
    • navywoman

      your pregnancy argument? that is in no way a womans fault.. like you said it takes two to tango so if the men cant keep it in their pants... and the women cant stop riding the bone its both faults... not the womens get over yourself

      July 12, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mike urciolo

    There's ANOTHER fine Navy tradition literally down the drain – aerial bombardment of roaches!

    July 12, 2012 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  15. Prometheus

    I am a male and I wish there was a way to provide some sort of 'SHOCK' or w/e to a male's genitals if he doesn't raise the seat when urinating.

    July 12, 2012 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
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