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. BDD_1970

    LOL So is there a formal new general order and article added to the UCMJ to put the seat back down when you're done?

    July 16, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  2. kocabill

    I love it. Guys, leave the seat up!!!

    July 16, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  3. snipsnap

    I wouldn't think "quality of life changes" include having to wipe down the toilet seat before you sit down to pee.

    July 16, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  4. Chris in KY

    Great, now they can pee on the seat! Guess none of these brilliant designers has ever cleaned a "head" that the guys have peed all over.

    July 16, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh in Austin

      Psst... You can lift the seat up!

      July 16, 2012 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. john

    Next I suppose they'll have to have abortion clinics on-board as well.

    July 16, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Nedarc

      Only after the 'Tampon Dispensers' are in place next to the Trojan Dispenser. Cynical but true !

      July 16, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. narragansett55

    Military readiness has been sacrificed for political correctness. Sleep tight America!

    July 16, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Thinker

      OK, I gotta ask; How does not having urinals detract from military readiness?

      July 16, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    The USN's Admirals appear to have been squaiting to pee for some time now. Thanks God I was in the Navy when men were men and the filipino girls ran scared...

    July 16, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Roberto B.

      Thank God you are out of the Navy and never come back.

      July 16, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • DR

      I was in when there was Iron men and wooden ships. Does this mean that when I am on the throne and sitting next to me will be some twit sitting on the throne as well or will I not be allowed to be in there when she is there. After all they are making a gender neutral navy

      July 16, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mike Larson

    who needs a urinal on a carrier? Just hang it over the side.

    July 16, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • chiefgeorge

      I remember the Kitty Hawk having pee trofts outside along the catwalk so we did not have to leave the flight deck...long gone now!

      July 16, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • TargetDestroyed01

      That water is cold!!! ...............And deep too!!!

      An oldie but a goodie for sure! I will be headlining all week, enjoy happy each night from 4-7, please remember to tip your waitresses. 🙂

      July 16, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  9. k

    Urinals used less water. On a carrier this may not be an issue but it is wasteful. Maybe i don't understand why there couldn't be urinals in female bathrooms in transition areas.

    July 16, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  10. keith2012

    I cleaned the "head" more than once in the navy and I can tell you that toilets increase the splatter and urinals are much easier to clean than a crusted crowed toilet bowl covers. But hey if its gender neutral ...maybe the showers will be too...

    July 16, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  11. erniedavidson

    Or, here's a thought – don't put women on ships! Especially combat ships ...

    July 16, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  12. Idiotmitten

    There's no need to raise the seat. The seat will be permanently down. The orders will be that the guys have to sit down to pee.

    July 16, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  13. chiefgeorge

    Will they increase the hair dryer outlets in the berthings too!

    July 16, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  14. chiefgeorge

    If it is truly to be a gender neutral Navy, then mens grooming standards need to be the same as womens. Long hair for male sailors would be allowed as long as it meets navy regs. Whats the difference? None in a gender neutral Navy.

    July 16, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. UnCoqui

    This is ONE of the reasons I left the NAVY 23 years ago. When men were men and women stayed off the SHIPS and SUBMARINES. Once that began to change, I had to leave couldn't stand helplessly watching the NEW POLITICAL CORRECTNESS ruining the best fighting force in world.

    July 16, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
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