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. JT Green

    I was part of the aircrew on a med-evac training mission aboard a C-130 back in the early 80's. There was female nurse with the rank of major and 12 to 15 female students caring for litter patients. The loadmaster called up front with the news that the Major was having all the girls take turns unzipping their flight suit and practice using the urinal. Not advocating that the Navy do that, but was pretty clever. Not much in the way of facilities in those days.

    July 16, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. big brutus

    next up.. eliminate the weight room.. make everyone Zumba instead..

    July 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joseph L Cooke

    The rule on our 42 ft boat is everyone using the heads, pees sitting down. Too much bad aiming in rough seas stinks up everything in short order.

    July 16, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. westpac

    and I guess that pretty soon you can just leave Olongapo (Subic Bay) completely off the list as a port of call. I mean, what's the point? (i know it's been gone for some time now)

    July 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Patricia -VB

    Be ready for long lines in the bathroom.

    July 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel Taylor

      There's always the porthole for those with the proper aim.

      July 16, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Morris

    Why do ships need urinals in this day and age?

    July 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      In a men's restroom, urinals take up less space than commodes. Therefore, you can get more personnel through a smaller "head" than if you only had commodes. Commode-only "heads" will either need to take up more space, or there will be fewer places to 'go' in them.

      July 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glen

      Why do ships need females?

      July 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Thomas

      Sometimes it takes too long to get to the fantail.

      July 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • thebloodystools

      Ya can't the guys just pee over the side? That is what I do.

      July 16, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Master Chief USN (Ret.)

    If the modern Navy is like it was when I was in, they will also need a pregnancy ward in sick bay, and on really long cruises, a daycare center would be popular. Oh yeah, some of the women I had aboard my AS in Charleston could use the urinal, no problem.

    July 16, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. fantail watch

    Yep, I see my last attempt to post on this subject lasted about 5 minutes. CNN is still good at CENSORSHIP!

    July 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. freecheese

    Be prepared for a lot of toilet seats covered with pee ! A REAL morale booster when you wake up in the middle of your dreams to go take a leak !

    July 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sirock

    How did Ford get a carrier named after him? He wasn't even elected

    July 16, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glen

      Neither was Nimitz

      July 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • TargetDestroyed01

      To Sirock: "How did Ford get a carrier named after him? He wasn't even elected" So much to say here, but I will try.

      July 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • TargetDestroyed01

      To Sirock: "How did Ford get a carrier named after him? He wasn't even elected" So much to say here, but I will try.

      As earlier noted, correct, neither was Nimiitz, Vinson or for that matter...Enterprise. Gerald Ford WAS in the Navy in WWII and was President.

      And if Ford had been elected, then we would not have had Jimmy Carter, the second worse President of all time right behind the reeking socialist pile of .... well, to put it politely.......it...currently occupying the Whitehouse because 69 million abject idiots made a horrifically bad decision in 2008.

      So....the name of carriers are not based on being President or being elected. Lord help anyone who tries to serve on any future USS Obama. That ship will probably self destruct and sink while in the process of trying to surrender itself!

      Hope this clarifies the issue and answers your question. You are welcome. TD01

      July 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Samson Wright

    Can the guys still stand or they now required to sit? How about the toilet seats? Are they required to be left up? I'm an ex-Army BRAT we were taught you could pee just about anywhere. I really don't see a problem until they try making guys into girls!

    July 16, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. john

    Gender neutral; I get it. Equal opportunity for females; I get it. My son has to register with the selective service when he turns 18 but my neighbor's daughter does NOT. I don't get it. Are men and women equal, or NOT?

    July 16, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. AVM

    Our military in all its branches have been ruined thanks to the PC crowd.!2 years and counting on to so-called wars.

    July 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ronwmyers

    I thought they just whizzed off the bow. Remember to leave the seat up ladies!

    July 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Richard S

    So,,, Do we leave it up or down?

    July 16, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
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