Several civilians went underway aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) on a breezy Monday morning in June. The carrier and her crew were conducting carrier qualifications. We civilians – mostly engineers from Newport News Shipbuilding – were there to see the ship systems we design and build in operation and to speak with the sailors who use them.
Before embarking, we asked fans of Aircraft Carriers on Facebook what they would like to know about the ship and its operations. Armed with questions before our departure, we have the answers – and then some – now that we’ve returned.
The first question we received was surprising: Do the toilets still go out every other day? The quick answer is no. During the five days I spent on the ship, the toilets worked beautifully, with a satisfying whoosh whenever engaged. Back in November, in response to the brouhaha over the toilets, the commanding officer (CO) of the ship, Capt. Brian Luther, posted a note on the ship’s Facebook page. Read it here.
On a related note, I observed how aircraft carriers handle trash in the restrooms, aka “the heads.” There were large paper bags placed in the heads, each marked with what should go in them: paper, plastic, metal and, in the women’s head, FHP (feminine hygiene products). Each day, the bags were collected and processed appropriately. Paper and FHP is often incinerated. Plastic waste is heated and compressed into disks or “pucks.” These and metal trash are stored for disposal in port.