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. Jacob

    This has more to do with privacy than it does gender. Funny how this design change comes about just after Gays are allowed to serve openly in the military. Don't get me wrong, anyone who wants to, and is able to, should be allowed to serve their country, but lets not get confused about what is really behind the design change.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • jon

      What difference does it make what the reason's long overdue.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • SLBJAX

      The assessment of the ship's need were done long before that decision.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wild Bill

      Didn't think about that.... I just wondered why they can't build 2 in 1's.

      July 16, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Landlubber GI

      Outstanding comment. Stole my thunder.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. RetiredVet

    My entire time on the USS Nimitz as a hull technician, we always had toilets no urinals ever, so this is now newsworthy?

    July 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • CTR2

      ... there are urinals on that ship. The new ships will have zero, the policy is progressive. It's newsworthy because not too long ago women weren't even out to sea.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Merrillee

      See? Yet another vor...and it has nothing to so with gay people, either, right?

      July 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • I don't wanna put the seat down or up or whatever

      This is fine as long as they keep women off the battle field.Let them operate the helicopters and gun ships and ships at sea but not on the battle field.Remember what happened when that gal was captured in Iraq.. The politicians will have a field day when one of them is captured.They will want a blow by blow of her captivity and we all know what will happen if they are captured.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CTR2

    This is a good change. I can't tell you how many times women on a ship have to walk all over just to find ONE female head. The more they can convert as need arises the better.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • RetiredVet

      CTR2, I worked on the USS Nimitz from 2006-2011 in the habitability (plumbing) department, the USS Nimitz has never had ANY uranals on the ship because urinals with salt water cause heavy calcium deposits on shipboard plumbing. I know because I was a HT for 20 years.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rinsac

    LOLOL Long as the guys put the lid down.

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

    A word... BOGUS.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Destroyer

    Did they include magazine racks with those toilets? Are these the same $2500. toilets that the government purchased back in the 80's. Or has inflation increased the price?

    July 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. CJ

    Aim better

    July 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack 1

      You must not be male. sometimes it splits and you can't do much about it in time.

      July 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wild Bill

      *aim small miss small*

      July 16, 2012 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Samson Wright

      There was a little antique shop in Hagerstown, Maryland where, to combat clean-up efforts, the shop owner posted a little sign over the toilet offering men help who had problems with their aim. I subsequently discovered that the offer was insincere!

      July 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sad4Willis

    This story brings to mind one of the iconic scenes from a movie staring the late great Andy Griffith. In "No Time for Sergeants", Griffith's character rigs all of the toilet seats in the latrine to pop up in salute when he steps on a lever. Perhaps the toilets on the vessels could be similarly equipped so that men can step on the lever and the seat will rise while they do their business. Take your foot off thel ever and flush! No mess on the seat and really easy to accomplish!

    July 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Anonymous

    This is baloney. Put in urinals. It's a lot cleaner for the women and it's faster for everyone. Use some common sense.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. usnret1994

    Why does CNN keep perpetuating this nonsense about women not on ships til 1994. THEY ARE WRONG. Women serving on Navy ships since the late 70's/early 80's. I was in one of the original groups as a senior petty officer. Officers were first, then mid-level petty officer then junior enlisted. Come on CNN - get your facts straight.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gas Predictor

      Women were first authorized to be assigned to USN _combatant_ ships in 1994. Women had been assigned to noncombatant ships as early as 1978. But women served aboard USN ships even as long ago as 1961, but were not _assigned_ to the ship's crew. They were aboard more or less "temporarily," as part of a detachment, not ship's company.

      I recall having a small contingent of female officers aboard USS Truxtun (a cruiser and a combatant ship) in 1978.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. G W Bush

    Don't need a urinal, just aim for the ocean! Or the nearest Democrat, both are worthless garbage cans.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      I guess *that is* the difference between republicans, the republicans p-iss on you and we have to clean it up.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dom

    Some sailors, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the news outlet that they're happy to lose the urinals because they're hard to clean and maintain.

    Fear of retribution no doubt; toilets being a highly classified military secret.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. nytaxpayer

    what ever happened to the female urinals "push" in the early 60's. Some buildings still have them. Personally I think that urinals are less wastfull ( water wise), but I 've never been on a navy ship

    Bottom line is using less water

    July 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gas Predictor

    Ladies of the Navy, sit down for your rights!

    July 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Patrick

    Without urinals the whole seat up vs seat down argument is going to come to a head....

    July 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Landlubber GI

      Come to a head! LOL. How poignant a comment> Love it.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
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