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. Bill

    They dont need urinals; by joining the service, they've already pls$ed their lives away....

    July 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Smako

    In my day they had a trough with a steady flow of water in one end and out the other. I guess that is one more thing that a woman can do as well as a man. Pee standing up has been added to the list, along with killing spiders, identifying if a toilet seat is up or down in the dark, and fighting someone that grabs your ass.

    July 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Former Gob

      The long trough had some advantages. When the place was really busy you could gather up a big wad of toilet paper, set it on fire, and let it drift down under all those bare butts.

      July 16, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. some guy

    Over equip., over prepare under utilize. Troop : Lt. I see two bad guys with shot guns coming this way , should i fire back ? Lt. : No. Let me call in a B2 Bomber from The Air force and Ask the Army to send an Apache Squadron , tell the navy to mobilize the Battle Group and stand by for tomahawk coordinates. and then get all the 120 Marines on this base to get ready . We are going to show those two bad guys who are the meanest, toughest, killing machine guys in the world are.

    July 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. tb63

    Never mind that urinals save water.

    Wish I had one in my house.

    July 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joseph

      The urinals/toilets on naval vessels use sea water......Saving water in this system of the ship isn't an issue.

      July 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigDog's 81's

      Thanks Joseph for saving me from typing the exact same thing LOL! Enough with this NAVY stuff when is someone going to invent a portable toilet so my fellow Devil Dogs will not have to dig holes in the field to do #2 so that later on when digging fighting holes in the same area we don't unearth someones "waist"?

      July 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      It's a carrier ... on an ocean ... saving water isn't exactly the biggest concern....

      July 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TPF

    The let them wiz in the ocean, it's already full of stuff.

    July 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • V.P.

      TPF, sounds like you put a lot of thought in that dumb comment. How many years have you served your country? I put in 20, along with other family members we've put in about 127 yrs. I don't find your statement funny or entertaining.

      July 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gary

    Read the article. "Using only toilets, a first for U.S. carriers, will allow ship personnel to easily switch the designation of any restroom – or head, in naval parlance – from men to women and vice versa as needed, the Navy Times reported." Everybody needs to quit making everthing a political argument. Calm down and start trying to figure out why you are really mad, politics is just an outlet.

    July 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Merrillee

      Wow! ANOTHER voice of reason! Yay!

      July 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • nellyfromma

      Maybe you should complain to CNN instead, they like to sensationalize and report on things that ca nbe easily sensationalized. Look at the headline at this exact moment for further proof: an Op-Ed on if congress is using its time wisely. We KNOW it isn't, but CNN just provided ANOTHER forum for people to bicker about decisions ALREADY MADE.

      But, it's good for CNN, so they keep it up. Move along now.

      July 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BigDog's 81's

    I have no memory of urinals on the U.S.S. Wasp LHD1 which was the only NAVY ship I was ever on (former Marine) I'm sure we did but it must have been such a bad experience that my brain has removed such memories. I think this is fine since men can use both types of devices while women can only use a standard toilet, I was a grunt in the Corps so we didn't have any women in our berthing area but I'm sure if we did have women the lack of actual toilets could have been a real issue during those 6 month floats. Both men and women serve our country well and everyone deserves such basic creature comforts as a useable toilet so I'm glad the NAVY has made this change just like I'm glad that female Marines will be able to go through Infantry Officers School, if they can make it through that course I wouldn't have had a problem with them being my CO.

    July 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jon

    Submarines never had urinals, so I do not see what the big deal is.

    July 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

    No probs as long as the guys remember to put the lid back down. ;-]

    July 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      since the women will have access to weapons, won't take long to get that straightened out.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bill

    Ok, if they do this the toilets should come equiped with seats that are spring loaded to stay in the up position requiring you to sit on them to keep them down. That way the seats will always be clean for whomever uses them.

    July 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. dave

    i'm pised off

    July 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. KeninTexas

    What silliness this is. Just plain dumb.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. silverdeer

    So, now the chief complaint will be that the seat was left up!

    July 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott Pilgrim

      I never understood why it was so hard to look at a toilet before you sit down.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Scott Pilgrim

    *in my best Superfriends narrator voice* Meanwhile, at the Urinal Cake Company, the executives are furious over the loss of a big customer.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. GoDucks73

    Then where do the sailors get the free mints?

    July 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
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