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. DRAIL

    Carrier sailors have been squatting to pee for a long time

    July 16, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. alpha1six

    It will probably become a court martial offense to leave the seat up as well. We are witnessing the decline of the US into the morass of political correctness.

    July 16, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Al of GA

    Ahh, reminds me of free beer days at Milwaukee County Stadium years ago. There were not enough urinals, toilets and sinks, so male fans who had to go just peed in the 30-gallon waste containers in the Johns until they were running over. Those were the days.

    July 16, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John Svengali

    This is what happens when we elect a commander-in-chief who sits down to pee.

    July 16, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mikeofto

    It was a long time ago, but the ship didn't have urinals just a trough.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Old Submariner

      Mike, You're right! The first destroyer I was on was a step further back – there were no commodes. There were slats that ran perpendicular to the trough. There was a divider between each "station" but no doors. Often wondered about a little wooden boat with burning toliet paper on it to get folks to stand at attention quickly. Never indulged the question with action because I figured all of the guy would realign my head.

      July 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • fantail watch

      I remember seeing an old transport ship in mothball section of San Diego harbor with troughs in the head, in 1971. We were looking for any equipment we could use on our new ship, Blue Ridge, that we had just brught around the Horn from Philly. It was "u" shape and had wooden crapper seats for five, that could be raised for a stand and pee. It had a single drain with constant running seawater, no dividers and no privacy. We couldn't stop laughing about it for months.

      July 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. landon

    but doesnt a urinal use less water?

    July 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chief544

      Naval ships use salt water for flushing etc.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Owl Creek Observer

    As long as the ladies leave the seat up, it'll be okay.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • jpbrody

      I was thinking something similar! Gonna be a lot of griping when the guys leave the seat up. Or - yeach, if they don't lift it up when they do their biz.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. alexandron

    Since men are giving up another male "benefit" to be gender neutral, women should be required to lift the seat after use. This would really level the gender neutral playround somewhat.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. touch

    just pee off the side

    July 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rustypelican

    No doubt male sailors will be expected to pee sitting down.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Fred Jackson

    They won't make the women keep the seat up, they'll make all the men sit to pee.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Paul from Hamburg

    "Attention. All off-duty male personal, please report to the fantail for today's rendition of 'The Bellagio Fountain'".

    July 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. eoddvpj

    OH MY GOD!!!

    Who left the toilet seat up???????

    July 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jack Boot

    "Heave a ho there! sailor" [from lyrics to Anchors Aweigh]

    July 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Boot

      "heave ho" while I take a dump on the floor.

      July 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Randy

    At the airports, it's always the commodes that are stuffed up with paper while the urinals run free... Also, much faster to run up to a urinal, do business, and move on. If the Navy really wants to save money, I suggest a policy to visit the back of the ship where it won't spray in your face, but of course that's too obvious isn't it?

    July 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
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