newstimes — July 29, 2017
Military & Defense Team
Amid all its upgrades and advances, the US Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, is lacking one feature: urinals.
Every bathroom on the Ford is, for the first time, gender-neutral, equipped with flush toilets and stalls, according to Navy Times.
Bathroom-design experts have said sit-down toilets are less sanitary and take up more space, and most of the Ford’s crew members are men. (Women are only about 18% of the Navy.)
But the Navy has said getting rid of urinals has advantages for current and future operations.
Making every bathroom accessible to all of the ship’s sailors will make things more convenient for sailors, the Navy has said. And bathrooms that can be used by either gender mean the Navy can reassign them without making any design changes, should the crew’s makeup change.
“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. “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.”
Other changes include redesigned sleeping areas with fewer beds in each room, different spaces for sleeping and recreation, wider passageways, better gyms, better air conditioning, and more efficient light bulbs. USB ports have been installed to make it easier for sailors to charge cellphones and other devices.
Beyond the bathrooms, the Ford — which is the first Ford-class aircraft carrier — has 23 new or modified technologies.
The ship’s island is smaller and farther back on the flight deck, allowing more space for air operations. Inside, the traditional throttle system has been switched out for an updated, one-of-a-kind touch-screen display. “This ship can basically drive itself,” Petty Officer 1st Class Jose Triana told CNN.
In addition to carrying more aircraft, the Ford will also use the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System rather than steam power used on Nimitz-class ships. The EMALS system is designed to offer more control and precision when launching aircraft and will be used despite President Donald Trump’s vocal objection earlier this year.
The EMALS system is also part of the Ford’s switch to electrical power. The ship will be able to produce three times as much power as Nimitz-class ships, and the Navy has said replacing steam-powered systems with electrical ones will open space for future technologies.
USS Gerald FordUS Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aidan P. Campbell
Flight operations will also use the Advanced Arresting Gear system to recover aircraft. The AAG system will allow Ford-class ships to work with air systems that Nimitz-class ships are not interoperable with.
Courtesy Peter Myers