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. Chrissakes

    Everyone pees sitting down?

    July 16, 2012 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
    • tired170

      All squids must now squat to pee. Admiral Nimitz and John Paul Jones must be rolling over in their graves.

      July 16, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  2. JOE

    God help the men if they do not put the seat down.

    July 16, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      NO...this is why the Navy will mandate everyone sits while urinating. Because the seats will be a mess at times, the women will complain, then a new Navy directive will come out mandating everyone sits to pee! Haha....they are not sharing the bathrooms, it's just to make it easier to change a male unit to a female while making the most of the space. These comments are over the top...haha.

      July 16, 2012 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
  3. Chrissakes

    How much time will be allotted in boot camp to train recruits to remember to put down the seat after micturation?

    July 16, 2012 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. Beez

    The urinals are harder to clean because they get MUCH more use. Once everyone is no longer to go take a quick whiz in the urinal, the toilets will incur all the use, and become just as difficult to maintain.

    July 16, 2012 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
    • RussB

      Tey will have urinals but they will be spelled S*I*N*K

      July 16, 2012 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dave_in_SF

    Leaving the seat up will be a Captain's Mast Offense (Article 15 for all you ground pounders out there) If a Wave or BAM falls in we are talking about a Court Martial and a Big Chicken Dinner.

    July 16, 2012 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
  6. free2speakup

    So will they call it the Jill now or potty.

    July 16, 2012 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. Chang Tze

    And our enemies smile just a little bit more broadly.

    July 16, 2012 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Apachecav


      July 16, 2012 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Apachecav

      Amen Chang they sharpen their swords

      July 16, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  8. DH

    OK folks, we lost the war. Let's just waive the pink flag and surrender now.

    July 16, 2012 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. peterike

    America as a nation is now officially over. All that's left is the sweeping up.

    July 16, 2012 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. Alex

    Logistically makes sense despite that I despise politically correctness. But it wouldn't hurt to add urinals in high use areas. Come in Navy!

    July 16, 2012 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. SoWhat

    "Not with a bang but a whimper"

    July 16, 2012 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. moreofthislessofthat

    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.

    Government stupidity. The urinals clog more because they are plumbed with narrower (cheaper) pipe. You could easily plumb them as commodes at the same cost as fitting them with commodes. Built also note that commodes are harder to clean, take more space, and longer to use.

    July 16, 2012 at 1:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. BMC

    Having retired as a CPO in the last decade, I had the opportunity to see that the vast majority of women DO NOT carry their load and are spoiled beyond belief. The majority truly ruins it for the few who really are every bit as good as the majority of men. The biggest problem as I see it isn't the women themselves, but rather the way that the Navy treats them.

    Also, the issue of strength is not just talk. The vast majority are truly MUCH weaker than a typical male and the men do indeed have to do more work than the women.

    July 16, 2012 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
  14. Tadhg O'Seaghdha

    Don't kid yourselves, ladies: the closest urinal is never farther away than the nearest sink. Just sayin',

    July 16, 2012 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
  15. JP

    As long as Americans keep signing up for, and putting up with this stupidity, things in the military will just keep getting worse.

    July 16, 2012 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
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