The Navy is touting its very first “gender neutral” aircraft carrier, and in the process Navy brass are ignoring a serious and ongoing problem that comes with women on ships.
As reported by the Navy Times, while the USS Gerald Ford“has all sorts of high-tech gear equipped for 21st century naval warfare … there is one thing that male sailors will notice is no longer available: Urinals. That is because every “head” (sailor talk for restroom) on the Gerald Ford has been fitted to be “gender-neutral,” so that all urinals have been dismissed in favor of flush toilets and stalls, especially for female sailors.
“The vast majority of the 5,000-plus sailors who will deploy aboard the carrier Ford are men,” reported the Navy Times, “as women account for only about 18 percent of sailors in the Navy.” The Navy insists, however, that the change is intended to accommodate the comfort of all sailors, not just women. The USS Gerald Ford “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 explained to the Navy Times.
Every berthing (living) area on the ship includes a private restroom attached to it, Motsenbocker said, “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.”
But bathroom professionals say the re-fitting doesn’t quite make sense, pointing out that bathrooms without urinals on a ship mean less sanitary facilities. Chuck Kaufman of the Public Restroom Company, which specializes in designing bathrooms, noted that “a toilet is by far a less clean environment than a urinal — by far.” Attempting to explain the problem in as delicate terms as possible, Kaufman noted that men typically don’t sit down to urinate, and a urinal provides an easier target to hit than a toilet bowl in a confined water closet. “A urinal is a target,” he said, noting that when men are required to relieve themselves in a water closet, the results over time are a messy floor and unsavory stench.
But it appears that the Navy is ignoring a far bigger problem than stinky bathrooms on ships. In March of this year, the Daily Callerreported that, according to data it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, 16 of 100 female Navy personnel are reassigned from ships to shore duty because they are pregnant.
Overall, reported the Daily Caller, “women unexpectedly leave their stations on Navy ships as much as 50% more frequently to return to land duty, according to documents obtained from the Navy” which cover January 2015 to September 2016.