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. MZ

    I was on a destroyer tender in '93, and in Navy housing from '92-'95, and again from 2000-2004. We had urinals everywhere. There was certainly no reason to whine and complain about a vertical piece of porcelain (or metal) stuck in a wall–it was just one more thing in the bathroom to keep clean, really, no big deal–but after a few years of seeing them in damned near every "female" restroom, it kind of gave you the impression that that the Navy was waiting for women to leave so that the urinals could be put back in to service.

    July 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mick

    They're also going to install vanities, lavender-scented soap dispensers, and those cozy rug things that women like to put around the front of the toilet.

    July 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jj

      funny comments on here. As a veteran of the navy I can certainly agree with the fact that those urinals were the nastiest part of the heads(bathrooms). I can still remember the disgusting smell of them. Good riddance!

      July 11, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • bitnar

      Not this woman. I hate carpet on floors; why would I put it on a toilet?

      July 11, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • bitnar

      This was in response to Mick: Not this woman. I hate carpet on floors; why would I put it on a toilet?

      July 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. LarryB

    I wonder where moribundman got his "one-third" statistic.....oh wait, probably the same place all statistics are from in these blogs: completely made up and unsupported by any facts!

    July 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Holdupaminute

    Unfortunately for the ladies, the men's urine is not guided by satellite into the toilet.

    July 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Paul Martin expat Welsh foreign correspondent

    As a former RAN commander I say put em on a seperate ship, a seperate section or an island somewhere far from the rest of the crew !

    July 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • no aiming necessary

      Are you referring to the urinals?

      July 11, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ghj

    This is gonna totally freak the men out. Men go completely nuts when a restroom doesn't have a urinal.

    July 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allen Tyme

      Hang in there. lol

      July 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gary

    And so if a woman were to actually see a urinal, that is a bad thing?? This is so stupid it hurts.

    July 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      No, as the article explained, it's just stupid to fill up space on an expensive ship with fittings that have no use. Urinals in a women's room don't offend anyone...but what the heck is anyone going to do with them? They're just going to sit there, wasting space - and the Navy hates wasting space.

      July 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. paratrooper1

    there are no urinals on space ships

    July 11, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ronjayaz

    Just think U wont have to lift the toilet seat to pee. When U think abt it, the urinal was the reason for peeing into the toilet. Now we can all squat after a generation..

    July 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. BigAl

    I really don't give a squat!

    July 11, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Brian jr.

    I wish the destroyer i was on in the mid seventies had woman on it. Out at sea you get sick and tired of seeing guys all the time.Not natural to see the same gender day in and day out.To late for me but NOT to late for my grandson.

    July 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Richard

    Gender neutral bathrooms make sense. Constructing new carriers when we're not at war doesn't. We already have ten times the military of any other country in the entire world. And, not even China seems to be trying to compete with us. So, why do we need new carriers?

    Why are we not shrinking our military, instead of growing it by a hundred billion dollars a year?

    July 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Ya see, Richard, there is the fact of "peace through strength". If you can't buy into that, then try to look at it this way .... it sure keeps others from jumping on your ass every time they feel frisky. Like it or not, that's how this old world works.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • CosmicC

      If you accept the argument that we actually need aircraft carriers (I could go either way on that one), we should not wait until we're at war to come up with the replacements. The Nimitz were designed when then navy still had operational propeller aircraft. Gotta think it's time for a technology upgrade. The replacement carriers are designed to be more efficient with a lower operating cost (we'll see). Given the current schedule, the existing carriers will be about 30 years old when they are retired.

      July 11, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CNN Reader

    I love the smell of urinal cakes in the morning (or was that napalm?)

    July 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Panties

    Whatever they wanna do is okayl with me. Grins and a few Giggles.

    July 11, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. pp

    Just pee off the side of the boat, that's what we do on our pontoon! No toilet seats to raise, no handles to flush, no wasted water. Save the environment, improve cleanliness, save money.

    July 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
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