After speaking with sailors deployed on the ship who told him of searching for up to an hour for an operable head, depriving themselves of food or drink, urinating in showers or sinks after being locked out of heads; Stewart contacted AIRLANT, the Naval Air Force Atlantic. In a written statement, the Navy acknowledged system problems since the ship’s delivery in May 2009.
The Navy blames the sailors who blame the vacuum system.
Effective Nov. 14, the cipher locks had been reset so all hands could access any working head and at the time of Stewart’s story, all heads were functioning. The sailors say they will be surprised if the smooth operation continues through the end of the ship’s deployment. The Navy did not plan for failure of the modern system and this has caused a drop in morale and has adversely affected the sailors’ ability to maintain their military readiness.
For more details, read Stewart’s article at Navy Times.