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. George

    wiseowl says: Being 5'-6" tall, I never used a urinal aboard ship. Especially while waring dress whites. Not a very good way to past inspection.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Parick

    I don't see what all the fuss is about. It's not hard to pee in a toilet. What about urinals is so special that a ship must have them?

    July 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Me Telecom

    Urinals clog more because the drain pipe is smaller because it uses much less water to flush because it's purpose is to use less water. now to pee in a toilet uses more water & more waste. – not to say the toilet paper used to clean the seat from pee.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Leviathan

    Why on Earth do all the commentators care so much?

    Statistically speaking, the vast majority of you will never be in the Navy, and even if you are: you use toilets instead of urinals. Big deal.

    I will never understand why people care so much about things like this.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dion

    Bidets are next...okay next budget cycle

    July 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew K. in Boston

      Dude, bidets are awesome! My butthole was never as sparkling clean as when I lived in Rome!

      July 17, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pastor Carmen A Cantalupo ENC(SW) USN Ret.

    You'er Joking on me right.

    July 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. yuuy

    Seat up or seat down?

    July 17, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • cyberhackster

      Spring loaded in the up position I hope

      July 18, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  8. Paul

    Yay for PC! I feel safer already.

    July 17, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MeSO

    Just don't pee on the seat. Maybe they should put a sign above each toilet that says " If you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be a sweetie and wipe the seattie" hahaha

    July 17, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. James Woods

    The reason urinals smell is because of environmental regulations that have apparently through the years made it so there is absolutely no water pressure at urinals. That or all the urinals i've used in the past have bad plumbing because I do not use many that have any real water pressure.

    In fact I use some now that don't have any water at all; they are the green toilets. I wonder how well all that urine flows down the sewer drain since there is no water to make it flow.

    Gee I wonder why the systems smell.

    July 18, 2012 at 5:00 am | Report abuse |
  11. angeson

    Ships have limited space and water. removing urinals may seem progressive but ask the girls how they like the new wet toilet seats and you'll find they wished there were urinals.

    July 18, 2012 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
  12. Bobby Dias

    Back to when there were no urinals. Urinals are recent fixtures in US Navy ships.

    July 18, 2012 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  13. Rochester

    Give me $37 Billion dollars and I'll design the Navy Anything it wants.

    July 18, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  14. Peter

    I use the Restroom at a Navy hospital, and the Sailors routinely Pee all over all of the toilet seats and as well all over the floor within a three-feet radius of the bottom of the toilet base. Very hygienic for a Hospital. I can tell you why their bathrooms all Stink

    July 18, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. Adam East

    Can't they just sit on it backwards? Urinals are awesome.

    July 18, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
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