Over the weekend, the mother of one Bush sailor became so upset by her son's repeated reports of widespread toilet outages that she blasted a news release about it to reporters across the country.
"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. "The taxpayers are outraged over the living conditions of the men and women onboard."
Brotherton's son, Petty Officer 1st Class Richard Frakes, said in an email interview that on some occasions he's searched almost an hour to find a working head
, the Navy's term for a 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."
The wife of another Bush sailor - she asked not to be named for fear that her husband would be punished - said her husband began telling her about the outages months ago.
"It sounds like a nightmare - having to run all around the ship to find a working toilet," she said. "He's told me it's made it one of the hardest cruises he's done."
Other Bush sailors told the publication Navy Times that they've resorted to urinating in showers, sinks and bottles, and that some crew members have developed infections after resisting urges to use the bathroom.
One sailor was recently disciplined after urinating in a place he wasn't supposed to, the Navy said.
Brotherton said she decided to issue her news release after her son told her he was limiting his food and water intake so he would need the bathroom less often. In the heat of the Arabian Gulf, where the Bush is deployed, sailors who don't drink enough water run the risk of dehydration.