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Over 10,000 Man Hours Spent Trying to Fix Aircraft Carrier G.H.W. Bush's 423 Toilets

According to the Navy Times, the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) has been struggling with some critical technical difficulties since it began its first deployment. Namely, that it has been extremely hard to keep all the $6.2 billion carrier’s toilets functioning. According to sources onboard the ship, there have been times when none of the carrier’s 423 toilets have been available for use. The horror of this situation is brought into sharp focus when you remember that the ship carries some 5,000 sailors.

The sheer scale of the outages aboard the carrier are staggering. The toilet system itself is vacuum powered, with over 250 miles of piping throughout the ship. The Navy says that when properly used, the system swiftly disposes of human waste with nary a problem. They blame the sailors for disposing various non-waste materials in the toilets. The Navy Times confirms, saying:

Sailors onboard the ship said that everything from feminine hygiene products to clothes have been unclogged from the network of pipes.

For their part, the Navy has downplayed the issue saying that the ship boasts a 94% availability rate for toilets throughout the ship’s deployment, which began last May. That said, there have apparently been 25 toilet related maintenance calls per week, amounting to over 10,000 man hours spent working on toilets alone. During one ship-wide toilet breakdown, workers put in 35 nonstop hours to rectify the issue.

While not being able to find a toilet may sound like a middling (dare I say, piddling) issue, sailors claim it has affected their readiness. Sailors apparently have had to search high and low to find functioning toilets on the 1,094 foot long carrier. Some have resorted to relieving themselves from catwalks, or into empty bottles, and at least one sailor has been reprimanded for “urinating on a sponson.”

Others have opted to adjust their diets, and apparently urinary tract infections are starting to spring up as a result of “holding it” too long. But even when a working toilet can be found, it can still be a struggle to find relief. Some toilets have combination locks, and female sailors have begun posting “sentries” outside of men’s toilets while their fellow ladies take advantage of an open bathroom.

In an inspiring display of democracy in action, the sailors waiting in line have begun organizing themselves in order of urgency. From the Navy Times:

As they wait, sailors do a quick survey of who has reached their physical limit, and sailors who need to go the most get bumped to the front of the queue.

“We all assess who is going to go in their pants first and set the lines according to that,” the second class said.

Life aboard the majestic vessels of the U.S. fleet are looking all the more attractive. Just be sure to go before you leave, because we’re not going to pay $25,000 to turn this aircraft carrier around.

(Navy Times via NOSInt, image via Wikipedia)

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