Aboard Navy ship, working toilets elusive

Nov. 15, 2011 at 12:12 PM
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NORFOLK, Va., Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Crew members on the George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf say they sometimes can't find a working toilet aboard because of plumbing outages.

The crew members say the lack of working toilets aboard the ship, which began its first combat deployment in May, has affected their morale, health and job performance, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot reported Tuesday.

The mother of one sailor aboard the ship sent out a press release during the weekend about the widespread toilet outages.

"The sailors aboard the USS George H.W. Bush have already endured nearly six months with an unhealthy 'inconvenience' that most civilians would not tolerate for six hours," Mary Brotherton wrote.

Her son, Petty Officer 1st Richard Frakes, said in an e-mail interview he sometimes has had to search nearly an hour for a working toilet.

"It definitely affects my morale," said Frakes, an aviation mechanic. "When I was unable to relieve myself for two days, I was irate to say the least."

Some sailors aboard the ship told the Navy Times they've urinated in sinks, showers and bottles and say some have developed infections from putting off going to the bathroom.

Brotherton said her son told her he had been limiting food and water intake so he didn't need use the bathroom as often, and that can cause dehydration.

The Virginian-Pilot said the problem has been caused by the vacuum system that pulls water through 250 miles pipe aboard the ship -- the first aircraft carrier with a vacuum system, similar to the ones on commercial airplanes and cruise ships.

The Navy told the newspaper in a written response to questions most of the outages -- and the ones that take longest to fix -- have been caused by sailors flushing "inappropriate material or items" down the toilets.

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