Surface Forces: April 4, 2002


With a new class of U.S. aircraft carriers being built, attempts are being made to improve living conditions. One idea (initially developed for the even more crowded conditions on submarines) is to have staggered L shaped bunks, so that sailors can kind of sit up while reading in their bunk. A more intractable issue is that rows of three high bunks are only separated by 19 inches in subs. Several proposals have been made to provide more space on ships. One that appears to be working is going "largely" paperless by using CDs for the tons of manuals and equipment documentation that go to sea with the ship. One paperless proposal did not pass muster. The idea was to replace toilet paper with bidets. Not very popular at all, and ships move out with a lot of toilet paper. But the engineers were not finished with the heads. The proposal to eliminate urinals appears to have been approved. With most ship crews now 20-30 percent female, it's easier to assign berthing spaces to all men or all women without worrying about which head has urinals. Female sailors, are working out, especially if they comprise 20-30 percent of a ship's crew. This is not uncommon, with some support ships having 50 percent women. There are problems if the percentage of women in the crew are less than ten percent. There are always problems with "unexpected" pregnancies while at sea, but, in general, the chiefs and division officers are satisfied with the women's performance. 


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