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. Southern Man

    This urinal thing must be a mistake. Has anyone paid attention to most of the women pulling sea duty? They pee standing up.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. WagTheDog

    No urinals = privacy = no leering from the "Ask & Tell" crowd.
    I think they meant to say "birthing compartments."

    July 17, 2012 at 3:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. Retired CPO

    What a joke ,pretty soon they will have Gay rec rooms on the Carriers

    July 17, 2012 at 5:03 am | Report abuse |
  4. commie hunter

    next these commies will be makin you sit when you pee, at gun point

    July 17, 2012 at 5:06 am | Report abuse |
  5. PaulNYCUS

    This is WONDERFUL!!!! This way, when the Navy allows trans people into the Navy, they'll feel comfortable. It will reflect more of America!!!!

    (Its just that its Jerry Springer's America.)

    July 17, 2012 at 5:11 am | Report abuse |
    • gerard

      So now the girls will have to wipe the splattered urine off the toilet seat before they can sit down?

      July 17, 2012 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  6. karlstalin

    The dept of HHS has said that men should sit while urinating just like a woman does because it is more hygienic. I wonder if they are going to name the new ship the Kathleen Sebelius? Another exercise for all of our troops is to practice sneezing into their sleeves. I'm sure that it will become part of basic training. If Obama were president in WWII we would all be speaking German.

    July 17, 2012 at 5:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Marc

      Go over the hand rail like real men

      July 17, 2012 at 6:56 am | Report abuse |
    • MarcusOHreallyUS


      July 17, 2012 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
    • MarcusOHreallyUS

      Marc, it's called a lifeline.

      July 17, 2012 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
    • HarryO

      Not sure we're any better off today what with 25% of the population (10% in government positions) speaking some form of Islamic and being Muslims.

      July 17, 2012 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. Deandre Andres

    The article states that urinals, which, by definition, only receive liquids, "clog more than toilets" that receive solids? That doesn't even make sense. Just what law of physics says that liquids can clog drains?

    July 17, 2012 at 5:45 am | Report abuse |
    • derekcrane

      You are correct. I managed high volume restaurants for over 25 years. Bathroom cleanliness is important to any restaurant and I can tell you and the other readers that urinals never clog. The flushometer wears out and the water flow diminishes but they never get stuffed up. However, toilets in the ladies room are a MAJOR problem. Too many women, it seems, like to flush their tampons down the toilet despite receptacles provided for their disposal. These tampons combine with the toilet paper to create a perfect block for the pipes. Resulting is a backup and an expensive call to Roto-Rooter. Jason Hanna, the writer of this story, did not do his homework before he reported. Removing the urinals is an obvious attempt by the radical feminists and the clip-haired types in the Pentagon to castrate the maleness off our sailors.

      July 17, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. Karmi

    A 'Girlie' Air Craft Carrier...well, 'Girlie' and 'Gay.'

    July 17, 2012 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. W. L Kelly

    OK, but make sure the women have to put the toilet seats back up for the next man who comes in.

    July 17, 2012 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
  10. David

    Better get the seat that automatically raises itself.

    July 17, 2012 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. FredOlds

    Was not true on Saratoga in 1975. The ship had 95 Congressional letters of inquiry on why the heads were in such a condition? By the way, urinals do clog when civilian deoderant cakes are placed in them as they are not designed to be used with salt water which is the flushing agent in heads aboard naval ships. Am sure you wanted to spell BIRTHING compartments "BERTHING" but your error may be a sign of the times in the new Navy!

    July 17, 2012 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Hyman Rickover

      Fred, FYI, "berth" refers to a sleeping accommodation. "Birth" is how offspring enter the world. The author's spelling was correct. It's usually a good idea to understand the facts before you rip into others...

      July 17, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  12. wildbill6996

    Lot easier CLEANING urinals than cleaning around a bunch of commodes.. Its hard enough to hit a urinal, especially on a rolling ship..

    July 17, 2012 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
    • MarcusOHreallyUS

      They had hanholds.

      July 17, 2012 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
  13. Brian Astby

    Why go through the expense of separate bathrooms and berthing spaces. If gays can take showers with normal men, then men should be able to take showers with women with no problem.

    July 17, 2012 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
    • redneek24

      Amen, brother.

      July 17, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  14. David

    And down the rat hole we go. Can anything save America?

    July 17, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  15. DW

    What exactly are people peeing out that's clogging the urinal pipes. And besides, if it's really a clogging issue for urinals, why not back them with the same plumbing that's below a toilet. It seems like a bogus answer "urinals clog a lot". How hard exactly is that to solve. Giving trash answers is always popular in the army when you're not allowed to say something that would compromise you from above.

    July 17, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
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