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. Bill

    Probably have to sit too...

    July 16, 2012 at 6:13 am | Report abuse |
    • John Dooley, Sr.

      Aah, political correctness.

      July 16, 2012 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. James Merson

    Why is this even news? Urinal use has been discontinued and their removal has been in place for a very long time onboard Navy ships both with and without female sailors. They clog, they stink, and they take up deck space that can be used for something else.

    The real news got glossed over in this article? What 600 jobs are going away that we are removing those sailors from the crew? The article states a reduction of about 660 crew members so what departments are going to get hit with the reductions? Are gypsey laundrys (washing machines) going to take the place of ships laundry (they use more water less efficienty and take time away from sailors who are off watch)? Meal service reductions (meal lines already stretch into the hangar)? Or what is going to go? Yes some sailors will be replaced with automation, but you can not automate maintenance of the ship or the sailor.


    July 16, 2012 at 6:19 am | Report abuse |
  3. MIKE

    where will the\e babies sleep?

    July 16, 2012 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. Former Gob

    The reason women's restroom lines are longer than men's in theaters and other places which impose schedules is that the men's have several urinals serving the same purpose as the commodes. This ruling will compound the problem on ships where everything is done by schedule. Also, for those who find masculine aim less than ideal wait to see what happens when the floor (deck) is pitching and rolling.

    July 16, 2012 at 7:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. Former Gob

    Why don't they design a urinal which could also be used as a bidet?

    July 16, 2012 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Misterwax

      women use urinals all the time.... they barf in them

      July 16, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  6. Crewmax42

    The company I work for switched out to terless urinals. You can just hang them on the wall and you're set. But, the military is usually twenty years behind.

    July 16, 2012 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
  7. Joel

    You sit down when you pee!

    July 16, 2012 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
  8. Scott

    What's next ... will male Sailors and Marines be ordered to urinate sitting down – in the name of 'fairness'?

    July 16, 2012 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
    • orange monkey

      That's the idea! It's all about gender equality. If women have to sit and pee, then it's only fair that men do to. The scarey thing is WHAT's next???

      July 16, 2012 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  9. Geardo

    Fairness would be to ignore gender, all sailors should use the same bathrooms, and berths

    July 16, 2012 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
  10. Noah Fing-Whey

    Where are they putting the ramming the lube shop?

    July 16, 2012 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  11. Realnaughtyguy

    Well thanks to BO there will be a lot more Sailors squatting to pee......

    July 16, 2012 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  12. jocko

    As long as they dont force the guys to sit down when they pee, then it makes sense. However, it is only a matter of time before some poor sailor will get reprimanded for not putting the seat down.

    July 16, 2012 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. JW

    Sailor's pee in the shower anyways. And if they stop cr@ing in the urials, they wouldn't be clogging so easily.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
  14. RK

    The Navy can hang placards above each toilet that say "if you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie"

    July 16, 2012 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
  15. Terry Saulsbury

    Just go back to what was aboard the WWII converted Liberty ship I was on in the Navy. It consisted of a trough about 15-20 ft long with sea water constantly running through and you either squatted to defecate or stood to urinate. It all was washed out to sea. Problem solved.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
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