Navy's new gender-neutral carriers won't have urinals
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.