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. AreUKiddingMe

    Another New Law to keep things equal: Men must sit down to pee.

    Sheesh.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Levi

      you sit down at home where you dont have a urinal? dumb....

      July 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rascal Rabble

      gender neutral has nothing to do with facilities it's an h0m0s3xua! policy assuring transgenders persons can impose their identty on others without restrictions....

      July 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • kurtinco

      I dont remember anyone stating that you have to sit down to pee. get a grip.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lanfear

      Are YOU kidding ME? You can still stand up and pee with a toilet.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • cacique

      Only if you want to.
      Many of us can still pee standing up if a urinal is not available.
      On a carrier urinals can be done away with, without ruining a guy's peeing experience.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • unclefester22

      Naaaaaaaa. We'll just pee on the seat....

      July 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      We have that convienient thing we can AIM with...settle down, people, it's just urinals...

      July 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Merrillee

      Yeah, right, Rabble, because EVERYONE wants a piece of your action. NOT!!!

      July 11, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • NotKiddingYou

      This is not a new law, it is a decision by the Navy. Also, I don't know about you, but I don't have a urinal at my place and I don't sit down to urinate. Do you sit to urinate when there's no urinal?

      July 11, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Gas Predictor

    For those who have never been there, Navy ships use seawater to flush toilets and urinals. Plenty of that to go around.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Foggy

    Actually they aren't gender neutral. They are female heads (consider any woman's washroom..toilets only), and guys are being asked to use them. Why cant each head be a mix? More politically correct garbage trumping pragmatism.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      How is having 2 pieces of equipment more pragmatic then having 1?

      July 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Merrillee

      EXACTLY, Mark!!

      July 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ceg

    What'd do you mean 1994, hey we had women aboard our ship back in 1982!!!! These guys really need to do their homework!

    July 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DC

    You can thank the O'bummer administration for this

    July 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. DC

    Don't worry, once they see how sticky and smelly the floors get, they'll bring the urinals back.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Equality

    Now if only the military will make physical fitness standards equal between men and women. If women want to be in the military, they should be held accountable to the same physical fitness standards as men.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lanfear

      I agree. The men in the Navy are FAT. I don't understand how they get away with it...

      July 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Egg

    Are they also going to implement a 'sit down" rule...or will women have to wipe the rim clean every time?
    ......and why name the new carrier after one of the dullest, clumsiest presidents in office? Since the current Enterprise will retire this year, name the new one Enterprise and continue the tradition

    July 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. max3333444555

    can fit a whole lot more urinals in a bathroom than full toilets. shrug

    July 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. big mister

    i agree they are gross and smell most of the time…..

    July 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • ztedster

      Sailors always had to squat to pee anyway.

      July 16, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Hambone

      Really? Guess the old saw that has been around for close to 75 years that goes "flare to land, squat to pee" is new to you. Look at the approach end of most NAS or MCAS runways and note the blacked out area just past the numbers where naval aviators plant the gear. This varies tremendously from the..well..."skidmark" looking skidmark that starts (often in the grass...) and wipes itself halfway down the runway at various Army and Air Force gentlemen's flying clubs around the globe. Serious waste of available runway. Even counter-sunk naval aviators hit the mark. Just sayin'.

      July 16, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • hogdriver

      Hambone, speaking as a guy who flies the toughest aircraft known to man, you've missed the mark with this comment. Just sayin'.

      July 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • sneakydonut69

      Filthy squids. Any lowly Army dog can even swim better than filthy squids.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • billnorris

      Every head in every ship is cleaned daily usually twice a day. The birthing compartments and heads are inspected every day by the ships XO or another officer on larger ships. CPO USN ret.

      July 16, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • folds

      That is ideally the case but it sure was not true on Sara in 1975. Your spelling of berthing "i.e. BIRTHING" is certainly true on today's carriers!

      July 16, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • tweaver1945

      After 20 years and eleven ships, my testimony that you will use 300% more water to flush with – that you require the heads to be cleaned every four hours and just for spite – a "lot" of toilets will be peed on versu in. I suspect after some thought those urnials will re-appear and segragation of restrooms will once again be back.

      July 17, 2012 at 5:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Harriet Vane

      "Birthing" compartments? Is the Navy that progressive?

      July 17, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Landlubber GI

      Do they have baby nurseries next to the "birthing" compartments? Sounds like those sailors are fratrenizing
      in violation of UCMJ. Is that why babies' belly buttons are called "navals"? Just wondering.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
    • billnorris

      Every head in every ship is cleaned daily usually twice a day. The birthing compartments and heads are inspected every day by the ships XO or another officer on larger ships.

      July 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Goingnative

    Yeah but will the guys put the seat down??

    July 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jay

    Man, I would hate to be the squid that comes on board as a boot, and gets assigned head cleaning duty. Sailors miss.. I know, I was one long ago...;-)

    July 11, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Brad

    No one is saying men have to sit down to pee. Judging by all the pee on toilet seats in public restrooms, most men don't like sitting down to pee anyway.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. I Read

    Does any one actually read the entire article before commenting? Seriously. Start at the top and work your way down. Take your time. Process what you're reading. Then comment.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Obama Mama

    It's astounding
    Time is fleeting
    Madness takes its toll
    But listen carefully

    Not for much longer
    I've got to keep control
    I remember doin the Time warp
    Drinking those moments when
    the blackness would hit me

    Let's do the Time Warp again

    July 11, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Merrillee

      AHHHHHH, RHPS! Yes!

      July 11, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
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