NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (April 8, 2017) The future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) underway on its own power for the first time. The first-of-class ship — the first new U.S. aircraft carrier design in 40 years — will spend several days conducting builder’s sea trials, a comprehensive test of many of the ship’s key systems and technologies. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni/Released) The new aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford has all sorts of high-tech gear equipped for 21st century naval warfare. But there is one thing that male sailors will notice is no longer available: Urinals.
For the first time, every bathroom on the Ford — known throughout military circles as a head — is designed to be “gender-neutral,” meaning all of the urinals have been replaced with flush toilets and stalls, Navy officials say.
The vast majority of the 5,000-plus sailors who will deploy aboard the carrier Ford are men, as women account for only about 18 percent of sailors in the Navy.
Bathroom design experts say water closets with seated toilets are less sanitary and take up far more space than wall-mounted urinals.
It will allow the Navy to quickly and efficiently change a head’s assigned gender, so depending on the ship’s demographics at the time, berthing areas can be switched between male and female to accommodate the crew’s needs.
“This is designed to give the ship flexibility because there aren’t any berthing areas that are dedicated to one sex or the other,” Operations Specialist 1st Class Kaylea Motsenbocker told Navy Times recently.
Every berthing area on the ship has a head attached to it, and some heads service multiple berthing areas, giving sailors more privacy.
“So if this space was needed for males, we could shift the females to other berthing areas and make this all male without any modification being necessary,” Motsenbocker said.
“[A toilet is] by far a less clean environment than a urinal. By far,” said Chuck Kaufman, president of the Public Restroom Company, an organization that specializes in designing bathrooms. Aboard the USS Gerald R Ford — (July 10, 2017) Onboard the $12.9 billion aircraft carrier Gerald R Ford, all the ship’s “heads,” which is Navy for bathroom, are unisex. The Navy says it makes it easier to move people around in the ship as no modification is required. (Mark D. Faram/Staff) He says that when men are obligated to pee in water closets, urine tends to build up on the floor, leaving an abysmal stench.
“A urinal is a target,” said Kaufman. “What is a problem is [with a water closet] you have a very big target and we can’t aim very quickly.”
Kaufman estimates that the average trip to the urinal takes a little under a minute. Meanwhile, peeing at a sit-down toilet takes twice as long, he said.
Whatever convenience that is gained by being able to morph men’s rooms into women’s rooms would also be lost in the amount of space that water closets, and the stalls around them, take up, […]