The $12.9 billion USS Gerald R. Ford, which can carry about 5,000, is the first new US aircraft carrier designed in 40 years. Of course, a lot has changed in 40 years.
For one thing, it’s not uncommon to find women serving aboard such carriers these days. Women account for nearly 20% of the sailors in the US Navy. So, the ship’s designers adapted to the new reality. According to the Navy Times, the Ford has no urinals—only seated toilets with stalls.
Urinals have their advantages. They take up less space. They allow men to relieve themselves while standing, without creating a hygiene problem. Many men will no doubt opt to stand despite the option to sit—and create a smelly mess when they miss the target.
Gender-neutral bathrooms are a hotly debated topic in the US and elsewhere, but for the USS Ford the issue is flexibility. ”There aren’t any berthing areas that are dedicated to one sex or the other,” an operations specialist told the Navy Times of the new design. If a space were needed for males, “we could shift the females to other berthing areas and make this all male without any modification being necessary.”