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. john

    New sign in bathrooms : We aim to please so you aim too ... please .

    July 18, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  2. Flying Gerda

    I'm still not becoming a naval aviator until they install Kotex dispensors in every F-22.

    July 18, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ron

    37 billion for three ships? No wonder we no longer have a manned space program!

    July 18, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aeromechanic

      Why do people keep saying that. The company I work for is building numerous components for the next manned space craft.

      The shuttles had a 1 in 60 chance of failure. Would you want to fly on those heaps?

      July 18, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. T. Lee

    OMG – this is sooooooooo IDIOTIC !!!

    Hell – why not just save the expense of toilets altogether and have "Boys Off the Starboard Side – Girls Off the Port Side" !!!!

    July 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. nik green

    $37 Billion for 3 ships? And what is the deadly threat that we face to "justify" this huge pile of stinking pork? This is pure waste, big government spending, corporate welfare for the parasites in the military industrial complex. Meanwhile, the nation's 50 to 100+ year old infrastructure decays and virtually all of our manufactured goods are imported from Red China.

    July 18, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • DaButter

      "Waste" like this is the reason you aren't speaking German or Russian right now.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • clark

      Yo DaButter, We don't speak Russian or German because we had Carriers with with Urinals. With a handle like DaButter, I wonder what you'd be doing on an Aircraft Carrier after the lights went out.

      July 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • alex peterson

      now they have to learn to sit and pee.........less smelly and easier to clean..........

      July 18, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buckee

      Funny Funny Funny,

      Women will have to sit on potty seats that are covered with peee.. Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

      July 18, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buckee

      We are in decline. Didn't you know ?????

      July 18, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rosie

    Well there is a HUGE toilet off any side, right???

    July 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Fairplay99

    Fascinating. So will the heads be co-ed?

    July 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. steven

    I say that the showers should be gender neutral and to save on water two people per shower to save money and have more efficiency overall.

    July 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      That's right Steven! Lets go a little further, totally coed! All one big sleeping quarters! NO DISCRIMINATION!!

      July 19, 2012 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
  9. 22X Richer

    What about the LGBT heads?

    July 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Easy E

    Of all the things that kept me out of the military, the total lack of privacy 24 hours a day and the use of tiny, overused, filthy mass bathrooms was at the top. I cannot imagine how anyone can deal with that kind of smelly, noisy phu king chaos. Hot weather, cold weather, rucking 80 pounds 20 miles, being shot at, no problem, but living like a caged animal, no thanks.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike in SA

      Well...your name says it all, Thanks for NOT serving; glad you stayed a civilian.

      July 18, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buckee

      When you are old and demented, it will cost YOUR family $13,000 per month (today's dollars) to care for you 24/7. Had you served your country in the military, it would cost less than your SS check. Too late now. Start saving.

      July 18, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. tilmeismoney

    They should have co-ed showers and sleeping spaces too.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Frank

    People of the United States of America and MSNBC Lean Forward Progressives,
    No doubt this is one of the Obama Administration Budget Cost saving measures.It's nice to see play are thinking out of the box!

    July 18, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John Kaufman, Oceanside, CA

    The Navy is foolish is building these super carriers, they are venurable. What the Navy should be building are much smaller and much, much faster carriers that can launch unmaned planes, jump jets, and deploy special ops forces faster and quicker to any area in the world immediately. You could build 4 to 5 of these carriers for just one Ford class carrier. As to these pocket carriers speeds, I am talking at full speed of just over 70 knotts, even looking into twin hull designs. They would be better deployed over larger areas and be able to launch from different places at once deploy. Are urnials the only thing important here? Give me a break!

    July 18, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Caleb

      I'm pretty sure we have lots of those too man. This story is about carriers, not the stealth transport ships, etc. As for the carriers themselves........an upgrade was needed, but that is some steep cheese. Here's to these lasting the next 50+ years.

      July 18, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. doug the slug

    Why is the US spending this sort of money on carrier upgrades, when it already has more carriers than anyone else, and is hemorrhaging money. Who cares whether there are urinals. The economy is in the tank. Nobody is catching up anytime soon. Why is the question. It's worth a chuckle, except the joke's on us.

    July 18, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. readyeller

    Hey, We need those carriers. Well actually our wonderful "Job Creators" who are creating jobs in China need those carriers. Once they complete their factories in China and realize that they have been swindled by China and kicked out of the country under China's wonderful arbitration system we will need to invade. Um....they will need to invade.

    July 18, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
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