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. Hrmmmm_guy

    Is this really an issue of wasted space or getting a government contract to build over priced toilets?

    July 13, 2012 at 6:16 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mark

    If I hit something i'm happy

    July 13, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  3. TheBigSarge

    just use the sink in the head. that's what i did when i was with the vincennes group. the sinks were just the right height and were easier to use. they got flushed when i washed my hands. conservation at it's most basic. al gore would be proud.


    July 13, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. techresmgt

    More female centric CRAP.

    July 13, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • JG

      That comment shows your ignorance.

      July 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • sparky

      considering all sailors sit to pee in the first place...

      July 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shirley

      How does gender-neutral translate to "female-centric"? It's truly a brilliant idea because urinals are unnecessary; they are a convenience for me. This change makes it easier to use space wisely and keep things equal. I do agree with keeping the heads for men and women separated – I'm sure most guys wouldn't care to be in the same toilet area with a woman trying to clean up while menstruating.

      July 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • cpc65

      No, not "CRAP". It's number one we're talking about here.

      July 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. IbetIgetcensored

    Just hang it over the side and go. "That water show is cold, yea, Deep too."

    July 13, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff

    Headline should state – more sailors will now have to sit in other guys dried urine.

    July 13, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  7. se123 instead of pee around the urinal there'll be pee all around the stall and the seats...pretty stupid idea!

    July 13, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jack 1

    Shame on the US military for allowing this to happen. Gays should'nt be in the military and cause the military to go thru the expense altering the bathrooms. They sure aren't complaining about taking showers with the gender that arouses them.

    July 13, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. johnny

    This is just another silly example of how far we are willing to go in the nonsensical effort to make everyone gender neutral. What makes me sad is the fact that the young children today being brainwashed in schools with this will openly accept changes such as this anywhere in our society. Ever talk to a young man (majority of them) in his early teens lately? He has no idea if he should be a boy or a girl.

    Fight back guys. Pee on the seats and leave them down!

    July 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. AZLib

    What a waste of money... The US spends for than double on military hardware then the rest of the world combined and doubled. Why must the American tax payer build n... more carriers when we already have 90% of the worlds carriers in our navy? Just crazy...maybe if we stopped being the worlds police force and jumping into stupid wars we might have money for other things. Just carzy.

    July 13, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Charles Babb

    Urinals aside, why are our carriers only named for republican presidents? Enterprise, Saratoga, Lexington, Wasp, Bunker Hill, Yorktown, and Intrepid were good names and carried no stench of politics. Scrub the names off "presidential" carriers and replace them with these proud and honored names.

    July 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bluesdoc70

    The "Village People" would be pleased.

    July 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. San Diego

    Do we really need another aircraft carrier? I mean really? 37 billion dollars?

    July 13, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. cpc65

    I am a man and I'm all for equal rights. I firmly believe that women should be able to follow any career path a man can for equal money provided they can pass any qualifications, same as with any male candidate would be required to do. But it is a SAD, SAD day where we have to forfeit our right to pee in a urinal. They do make urinals for women you know and urinals usually use less water than standard toilets. They also make this device that women can.... um insert that allows them to relieve themselves like a man.

    July 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • NavyStore

      CPC65 – Naval ships use seawater for their toilets – so water usage is not an issue.

      July 13, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • mcalleyboy

      That would require a whole new set of rest rooms for the troops so the stand up urinal is silly just sit and keep it clean.

      July 14, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. cpc65

    My Aunt and Uncle used to have all these cute little signs on the wall in their guest bathroom and one read, "We aim to please. You aim TOO, please!"

    July 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
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