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. First Brigade

    I have spent years on carriers, including 2 conventionals, the Kenedy and Kitty Hawk. Never saw a urinal. This artical means nothing.

    July 16, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Charles

    Having served aboard a carrier (in the old navy 1980-1992) I was laughing my ass off at this article. What next? A wedding chapel for gays? Beauty parlors? Another reason i would never allow my kids to serve. Smelly heads? Pipes too small? Suck it up pansies.

    July 16, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Matthew Dunnyveg

    It's very regrettable seeing my old outfit start drinking the PC Koolaid. The next step will be to forbid men from standing up to urinate; they will have to squat like women so women don't feel "inadequate". Don't laugh, it's already happening in some European countries.

    Our Navy will be in no position to fight, but it will be very Politically Correct. The question becomes: Our military will likely be the most Politically Correct in the world. But do we want a military that is Politically Correct, or do we want a military that can protect American interests? It's quite clear we can't have both.

    July 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Seabees1

    This is Navy propaganda at its worst. It's Navy caving in at its worst. Every admiral who signed off on this ridiculous change should be fired.

    July 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Clearhead

    This just in: Barney Frank has suggested that to modernize the fleet, all toilets should be replaced with bidets.

    July 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Longrun

    Will males be required to put the seat down of face NJP?

    July 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Punintendid

    They should not take this sitting down......................

    July 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. deskboy

    and so it continues. The demasculation of the American male, I always ask single moms to do their sons a favor, and teach to pee like a man, not sitting down like a girl. Of course, the femmes will complain about the mens not putting the seat up.

    July 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. glenp

    I've seen women back into and use URINALS!!!!!!!

    July 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JOJO IAM

    Pee over the side.

    July 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. txstan

    Will there be Captain's mast or some form of punishment if a toilet seat is left up?

    July 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Stantorini

    Makes sense. After all, the men already had an advantage...they literally work in one huge urinal...they can pee off any side of the ship.

    July 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. LukeJohn

    Hey it's a carrier – the men can pee overboard...

    In the interests of equality, the women can too – IF they can work out the logistics (hint: do it downwind) – Now that would be interesting. And good for morale too... ;o)

    July 16, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nemoque

    I wonder if the Navy is going to have sanitary napkin dispensors and condomn machines in every head?

    July 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jorge washinsen

    Man can't even go to sea anymore in peace.Now it will be, should the lid be left up or, should it be left down.

    July 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
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