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. Dipchip

    I heard the Next carrier will be Named the USS Obamanation! Rather than Midway The greatest Naval victory in history or Enterprise. The USS Enterprise will be appropriately decommissioned to correspond with the end of free enterprise.

    July 18, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. hobbit

    Now the problem will be people leaving the seat down...

    July 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Serge Crespy

    DIAPERS? ..... less down-time / most private / buy your own ....... Made in China?

    July 18, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dan Pennington

    When is CNN going to have a "SCIENCE" page – not a TECH page with gizmos and such, but a science page that follows all the very interesting news of the world of science?

    July 18, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Country Doc

    Why is it that the news these days are splattered with worthless dribble like this and not with more important items like the election, economy, etc. Fact of the matter is that no one would care IF the ships were male only, and the same change had been made in an effort to save money.

    July 18, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Landlubber GI

      "Why is it that the news these days are splattered with worthless dribble like this"

      Please, Please tell me this was a tongue in cheek statment regarding the removal of urinals from
      American Fighting Machines. Will the Army and Marines follow by eliminating the pipes in the
      sand we used In VN? Or the crappers with the wooden benches with the holes in them that gave
      access to the half 50 gallon drums that we had to burn? What is next? Reusable Depends?

      July 19, 2012 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. Former sailor

    How is this news? Navy ships that once had urinals ripped them out for this reason 10 years ago. So because it is being built just so they don't have to rip them out later? Thanks again CNN for failing to hit the mark.

    July 19, 2012 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. thewookie

    throw some bidet's in there and we can sell it to the French Navy when we are done with it! They will feel right at home! 🙂 What's my Navy coming too?

    July 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Boinky

    They should keep the urinals and just have the women wear catheters.

    July 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. E

    I feel this is an effective way to save money and reduce maintenance time and effort working on faulty ship plumbing. This is a time of budget-cutting and any ways to save money will help the greater cause, no matter how small.

    July 19, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. BK Martin

    UCMJ charge for failure to lower seat???

    July 20, 2012 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. Slow Brain

    I am an active duty sailor and after being on 4 different classes of ships (T-AH, DDG, LHA/LCAC, CVN) i cant say that i have ever once seen a urinal.

    July 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gordon Owens

    I'm sure that females will appreciate poorly aimed urinations

    July 23, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  13. Pdaddy

    Sure they stink! That's what the Marine breath mints are for

    July 23, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bob Sutman

    I, of course, don't have the facts, but I feel certain that WOMEN had a strong influence on this decision. But, as all you guys know, this is a world where men have it SO VERY MUCH better than women. I'm embarrassed to be a man because we take such advantage over women!!

    July 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John

    What about kotex dispensers, are they going to be put in all the heads?

    July 31, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
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