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. BC

    I used to be the division officer on a Navy ship once upon a time for the guys whose job it was (among many, many other things) to maintain and fix the ship's heads......those guys constantly said if they could get rid of one thing on the ship or remove one aspect of their job it'd be urinals.....their design meant that they clogged frequently and it had nothing to do with people putting stuff down them that they weren't supposed to.....it's no joke, regular maintenance is terrible for those things......that said, this isn't even remotely news, there are lots of ships these days with no urinals......the only difference is now the change is being made for the glamor ships.....

    July 16, 2012 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. Patriot42

    Crap runs down hill and the new guy has to clean the head so it it smells make the recruit do a better job.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. hillcoguy

    Being retired Army, I thought you guys just hung it over the side, and does this mean the end of Col. of the urinal position? But then again,you don't have Col.s do you?

    July 16, 2012 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. Angry-Elf

    Slow news day... Hey CNN Who gives a crap?
    What is this Pee Wee News?
    Get out there and dig up some real stories already!

    July 16, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  5. Doug Ess

    "Urinal drain pipes clog more than toilets.......".

    The moon is made of cream cheese, the stars of diamonds and my garden has 11 unicorns in it.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Detex

      so you maintain one of the carriers? Wow.

      July 16, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob Ebel

      I unclogged a few of these during my 8+ years in the Navy. I knew someone would make a comment not believing it. In a sense it is true. Toilets plug up during use but a plunger takes care of that. Urinals plug up because the pipes fill up with salts. They cling to the sides of the pipes and urinal pipes are smaller in diameter that the toilets so they plug more often. Remember, you are flushing salt [sea] water on the ships, not drinking water like we do at home.

      July 16, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  6. navybosn

    This is ridiculous! Stalls will be taken up by people defecating and male sailors will be standing in line gritting their teeth and crossing their legs. Males will not lift the seats when they pee and pee will be all over the floor in front of the toilet. Ever try to keep your pants dry while using a toilet with pee on the floor? Your pants get all wet with pee or you use tons of toilet paper wiping up the pee with your foot before you sit down. Then all that paper stays on the floor or gets put in the toilet causing backed up toilets. Removing urinals? BAD IDEA!! You're only asking for trouble! Guys will be peeing wherever they can when the stalls are full!

    July 16, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Wife of ET1

      Yes, urine all over the floor, and they will most likely be using the sink when the stalls are full. Yuk! Guys' restrooms are always so NASTY!

      July 16, 2012 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. edwardo

    Too bad the Marines are under the Navy. They know that sailors have to raise their skirts to pee anyway, now it is official! keep the toilet seats down sailors!

    July 16, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  8. edwardo

    Maybe they can put in bedeaux?

    July 16, 2012 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
  9. Hedley Lamar

    Guys can just pee over the side as long as it's not against the wind.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. cermjo

    The sad part about him he probably believes all the garbage he spews.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  11. Wild Bill

    Why not make 2 in one? Porta-poties have makeshift types like this, I don't think it would be impossible to make a 2 in 1.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. swabby

    You talk about a male missing the target, have you ever seen a female rest room after a dozen women us it? Wet with paper strewn all over the place. Just ask a women what they think

    July 16, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. CK

    The Feminization of the US...

    USN Regulation 12-0034: It will be a court-martial offense to leave the seat up.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  14. stpaulchuck

    I hope the girls remember to put the seat back up when they're done.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. Ron

    If a sailor is caught peeing standing up he could be court marshaled.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
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