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. Grady

    Presently deployed on the USS Nimitz, not a urinal anywhere...

    July 12, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DemonRoach

    Well, if the Navy doesn't mind sitting on Pee backsplash, it's up to them.

    July 12, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Uri Nation

    "Piddlin On the Pot and Do'n It Quite a Lot" – That's what Momma always said. Forrest Gump

    July 12, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tomk777

    A better headline would have been sailors on new ships have better chance of getting head.

    July 12, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clean freak

      Four thousand guys, with poor aim are going to urinate on the seat, the everytime a female comes along she is going to have to clean up after the last guy in the head. Dumb idea.

      July 12, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emigdio Alvarez

      @Clean Freak

      just sit down or lift the lid.

      July 12, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mike the electrician.

    they clog more? what are these guys peeing?????

    July 12, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Jackman

      think about it mate, if a woman has to take a sh!t and there isnt a toilet available in time, what would you do?

      July 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimbostud

      Thats what I thought!!!

      July 12, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Veritas

      Urinal cakes disolve partially and clog. Also, for whatever reason idiots spit their gum into urinals or put whatever else in there that they can think of. I know it shouldn't happen in the Navy, but I bet it does.

      July 12, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheese Wonton

      Shipboard heads use salt water to flush as fresh water is always in short supply on a combat ship. Salt water reacts with the urine to form a white crystaline deposit that clogs drain pipes pretty quickly.

      July 13, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  6. Matt

    Why are female sailors so upset about having a urinal in their lavatory? Were the male sailors upset about tampon machines in their lavatories? A restroom is a restroom and whoever can use it is whoever the brass says can use it. How was this a problem? If someone complains, you beat them, end of problem.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Veritas

      If you read the article you would have seen that nowhere does it say female sailors were upset by urinals in the restrooms. The reasons where that they were a waste of space in female restrooms AND they clog more easily.

      July 12, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • bptsj

      Don't understand your statement? If a head is designated for women and it has mostlty urinals it is not verry efficient of space. A head with all toilets has more flexibility.

      July 12, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Michael B

    I guess I can agree with this. Urinals do tend to smell worse as there is far les water which will flush the urine away. Clean it on a regular basis and that can easily be taken care of. Trust me. I'm in the Army so i've done plenty of cleaning. The only concern would be how would this affect water usage? Will it be an issue? I'm not in the Navy so I don't know how toilets on ships are, but i'm sure that has to be the main focus of it all honestly if it is going to be possible to support that action.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lance the Snipe

      All flushing water onboard ship is salt water, not fresh. This is supplied from the firemain system (also known as fire and flushing system, no kidding), so there will be no effect on fresh water usage. The reason urinas tend to clog more is caused by several factors, uses less water, urinal is used more than commodes, the natural minerals excreted by the body trhu urine build up quicker and a alt water rinse.

      July 12, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sam

    The entire future of the navy rests on this.

    July 12, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mister Jones

    I really don't think that women should be on warships in the first place, the head should just be labeled the head.

    July 12, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • navywoman

      Excuse me? i dont know why you feel the need to be arrogant about women on warships.

      July 12, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan Morelli


      July 12, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan Morelli

      I agree, why don't you take care of your child? If you don't he or she is going to turn out to be a non functioning member of society so you can go and kill people. Right on, that makes a better world. If men could have kids it would be better, more SENSE.

      July 12, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Patski

    Another example of the complete gender role reversal we're witnessing in 21st century America politically correct gone wild. Everything masculine is shamed and shunned. Women are the new Men, Men are the new Women.

    July 12, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Paul

    wait till they pee on the seats

    July 12, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JoAnn

    Most guys pizz over the side of the ship anyway.
    What's the problem?

    July 12, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheese Wonton

      Someone has never been to sea, either that or they like to wear their urine on their clothes. It's a bit breezy at the railing lad. Most of what comes out sprays right back at you. Your shipmates wouldn't appreciate it one bit either.

      July 13, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  13. OB1

    As always there is the sink!

    July 13, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. Cecil Burrow

    This is all Obama's fault.

    July 13, 2012 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
  15. juanmoretime

    Meat gazerr paradise now

    July 13, 2012 at 2:52 am | Report abuse |
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