Navy Approves New Uniforms
After several years of study, the Navy has approved new uniforms to replace the utility and service uniforms worn by its most junior members.
Outfitting the Sailor of the future took another step forward last week when Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mullen approved plans for a single working uniform for all ranks and a year-round service uniform for E-6 and below Sailors. Based on recommendations made during a comprehensive briefing by Task Force Uniform Feb. 24, Mullen agreed to production of both a BDU-style working uniform for all Sailors E-1 to O-10 and a more practical, year-round service uniform to withstand day-to-day classroom and office-like environments where the service uniform is typically worn.
The BDU-style working uniform, designed to replace seven different styles of current working uniforms, is made of a near maintenance-free permanent press 50/50 nylon and cotton blend. Worn with a blue cotton t-shirt, it will include an eight-point cover, a black web belt with closed buckle, and black smooth leather boots, with black suede no-shine boots for optional wear while assigned to non-shipboard commands.
“The intent of TFU always has been to give our Sailors a uniform in which they can work comfortably everyday and is more appropriate for the joint environment in which we operate,” Scott said. “Even better, we’ve created a uniform that’s also easier to maintain, is longer lasting, helps reduce the size of the sea bag, while at the same time recognizing the tradition and heritage of serving in the Navy.”
The service uniform for E-6 and below is comprised of a short-sleeve khaki shirt for males and an over-blouse for females, made from a wash and wear 75/25 polyester and wool blend, with permanent military creases, black trousers for males with belt less slacks for females and optional belt less skirt, and a black unisex garrison cap. Silver anodized-metal rank insignia will be worn on shirt/blouse collars and cap. The service uniform will also include a black relaxed-fit Eisenhower-style jacket with a knit stand-up collar and epaulets, on which petty officers will wear large, silver anodized-metal rank insignia. Those entitled to wear gold chevrons will continue to wear gold chevrons on the large metal rank insignia on the jacket.
“In our research, we found the group most dissatisfied with their present uniforms were E-6 and below,” Scott said.
The work of TFU will not stop. Next on the agenda is to evaluate additional uniform options, such as reviving the traditional Service Dress Khaki uniform for chiefs and officers, conducting research on the feasibility, cost and distribution of a service-wide physical training uniform, consider adoption of a ceremonial cutlass for chiefs, and investigate adopting a more practical service-wide, all-weather coat that would provide a better military appearance.
“The bottom line for me in making these decisions,” said the CNO, “is culture. Uniforms reflect our culture — who we are — what we stand for. I’ve said all along that no matter which way we go, I want Sailors to look like Sailors. I really believe these uniforms pass that test.”
These new uniforms will certainly make the sea bags smaller, replacing a ridiculous array or uniforms with two. The current utility uniforms for the lowest ranks make them look like longshoremen or janitors rather than warriors. On the other hand, the new uniforms will make the distinctiveness between junior sailors, petty officers, and officers much less stark than has been the case for centuries.
Amusingly, the purpose of this computerized pattern is slightly different than that worn by the Army and Marine Corps:
The working uniform design is not intended to camouflage Sailors against the background of a ship. Instead, the multiple colors on the uniform – navy blue, deck gray, haze gray and black – are common in the maritime working environment, making them a more practical choice. “What we have heard from Sailors aboard ship is if they get a small spot of paint or grease on a pair of solid-color utilities or coveralls, it’s easily visible and detracts from the uniform’s appearance,” [Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) (SS/AW) Terry D.] Scott said. “With the Navy Working Uniform’s multicolor pattern, a small spot or stain may be almost entirely unnoticeable.”
They call them “swabbies” for a reason, I guess.
Here are the current uniforms that will be phased out:
Images captured from United States Navy UNIFORM REGULATIONS (NAVPERS 15665I), in PDF format.
Service Uniforms: Service Uniforms are the Navy’s daily wear uniforms, and exist in several variations. Skirts are authorized for women in all service uniforms.
Service Khaki: The service khaki uniform is the sole province of Officers and Chief Petty Officers, because of this, it is common to see references to “khaki leadership” in documents. It is a khaki shirt and trousers, worn with a gold belt buckle and black shoes. Rank insignia is worn on the collar. Ribbons and badges are worn with this uniform. The regulations for ribbons state the highest three, or all ribbons can be worn at once. There are actually three kinds of headgear authorized. Frequently, a khaki garrison cap or command ball cap is worn, but a khaki combination cover is authorized. The authorized shoes are black or brown oxfords, but traditionally, brown shoes are only worn by aviation connected officers and Chief Petty Officers. The black shoes are worn with black socks, and the brown with khaki socks.
Winter Blue: The winter Blue uniform is authorized for all ranks, because of its color, it is called the “Johnny Cash” uniform. It is a long sleeve black shirt and trousers, with the headgear either the combination cover, white hat, or a blue garrison cap. All men wear ties, with a silver clip for Petty Officers 1st Class and below, others gold. Ribbons and badges are worn, and officers and Chiefs wear metal collar insignia, while enlisted wear just the rating badge.
Summer and Tropical Whites: The summer white uniform is similar to the above uniform, but with a few differences. The entire uniform is white, except for enlisted black shoes. Officers wear shoulder boards in this uniform, while chiefs wear metal insignia and junior enlisted wear rating badges. Interestingly, the women’s shirt for all ranks has shoulder straps, but carry nothing except for officers. The rarely seen tropical white uniform is similar, except white knee shorts, and knee socks are worn. Junior enlisted still wear black shoes.
Working Uniforms: The United States Navy has several working uniforms, for wear on underway ships, and in dirty work ashore. These uniforms are more for safety and comfort rather than appearance, and trousers are mandatory at all times. These uniforms are frequently either all natural fabrics, or blends. The typical headgear is a ball cap, either a generic “Navy” or a command listed. Currently, the Navy is attempting to replace these uniforms with a single Navy Working Uniform.
Winter Working Blues: Winter Working blues are similar to the Winter Blue Service Uniform.
Working Khaki: Just like the service khakis above, this uniform is worn by officers and Chief Petty Officers. Pin-on metal insignia is worn, and the garrison cap is an option. Only badges are worn, over the left pocket. There are short sleeved and long sleeved shirts available.
Utilities: Enlisted Utilities are a chambray shirt, with just the stripes from the rating badge worn, and dark blue slacks. Any badges, like submariner’s dolphins, are worn as embroidered outlines on the uniform.
Coveralls: A fairly new uniform, simple blue coveralls have become the standard working uniform for all ranks at sea. Rank insignia is worn on the collar, with officers and chief petty officers wearing embroidered pin on insignia, and other ranks embroidered miniatures of the rating badge. “U.S. Navy” on the left and the wear’s last name on the right are worn embroidered. Officers and Chiefs are embroidered in gold thread, and junior enlisted in silver. The senior designation badge is worn on the left, and others are optional. Officers and Khiefs wear khaki belts and junior enlisted wear black.
Tropical Working Uniforms: Tropical working uniforms exist, but are variations on the working khaki and utility uniforms. Knee shorts and black knee socks are worn, along with short sleeved shirts.
Aviation Working Greens: A working green uniform exists for officers and Chief Petty Officers in the aviation community. It is quite similar to the United States Marine Corps’ khaki uniform, with green jacket and trousers, and a khaki shirt, but insignia is black embroidery on sleeves, of stripes and the rating badge, while metal insignia is work on the khaki shirt. Wings are worn on both the jacket and the shirt. Brown shoes are authorized