$6B Navy Carrier Has Lousy Toilets

Vaccum commodes often don't work
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2011 7:26 PM CST
This Navy photo shows the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) departing Norfolk for its maiden deployment in May.   (AP Photo/U.S. Navy, MC3 Nicholas Hall)

(Newser) – The Navy Times has a tale of serious toilet woe aboard the USS George HW Bush aircraft carrier, which is currently deployed to the Persian Gulf. The $6.2 billion carrier has 130 bathrooms with 423 commodes, but many of those commodes are frequently on the fritz at any one time. Some choice details:

  • At least twice since the ship deployed in May, all 423 commodes were out of service simultaneously. Most times, it's just sections that go down.
  • Sailors blame the ship's vacuum system; the Navy blames sailors flushing everything from clothes to hygiene products.

  • Sailors say they sometimes have to walk an hour to find a bathroom, or, failing that, get creative; women sometimes have to commandeer a men's room and post a sentry at the door.
  • The Navy says it has spent 10,000 man hours fixing the toilet system on this deployment, about 25 service calls per week.
  • Sailors say they're limiting food and liquids and developing health problems such as urinary tract infections from trying to hold it too long.
  • One poor guy was formally reprimanded for "urinating on a sponson." (Yeah, we had to look it up, too; it's something mounted on the side of a ship to help with stability or maybe hold up a lifeboat. Kind of disappointing, actually.)
  • The story came to light because a sailor's mom blogged about it here.

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