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New Look for the Navy?

Navy Unveils Test Uniforms

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New Navy Work Uniform

The woodland pattern with predominantly gray color (left) and the woodland pattern with predominantly blue color are two of the new concept uniforms.

Official Navy Photo
Updated October 22, 2004
WASHINGTON -- The Navy introduced a set of concept working uniforms for Sailors E-1 through O-10 Oct. 18, in response to the fleet’s feedback on current uniforms. The new uniforms, which will begin wear-testing this winter, were unveiled aboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) at an All Hands call with Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) (SS/AW) Terry D. Scott.

The Navy Working Uniform (NWU) concepts offer four variations to be tested in the fleet. Each variation offers a combination of different patterns, dominant colors, fabric finishes and designs. Two of the new patterns are woodland design (one predominantly gray and one predominantly blue), and the other two are digitized patterns (again, one predominantly gray and the other predominantly blue).

Scott said these concepts are only the initial version of what the working uniform may ultimately look like. To assist in deciding exactly what uniforms Sailors will be wearing, Task Force Uniform (TFU) developed a set of concept uniforms.

“The concept uniforms are much like a concept car at an auto show,” Scott said. “It’s only a preliminary design of the final model, and judging from the fleet’s response, we can make modifications to the final design.”

The Task Force Uniform initiative began after Sailors in the fleet expressed their concerns about the current status of Navy uniforms. Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Vern Clark determined there should be an evaluation of the uniform requirements.

Upon completion of a Navywide survey last year, TFU went to work on interpreting more than 40,000 surveys with the help of an organizational psychologist to determine what changes Sailors desired. Some of the concerns expressed were that there are too many uniforms, they wear out quickly and are difficult to maintain. They also commented on the need for a working uniform that would be practical in different working environments and climates. The majority of respondents said they preferred a Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) style working uniform.

The Navy Working Uniform is being designed to take the place of utilities, wash khaki, coveralls, woodland green, aviation green, winter working blue and tropical working uniforms. The normal wear life is designed to last up to 18 months, compared to the current wear life of six months for the working uniform.

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,” Scott said. “With the Navy Working Uniform’s multicolor pattern, a small spot or stain may be almost entirely unnoticeable.”

Another positive aspect of a multicolor pattern is that wrinkles caused by daily wear would be less visible, and the new uniforms will be wash and wear with no ironing required.

“Why should we need to iron a working uniform? The NWU fabric treatment will be a considerable improvement over the previous working uniforms,” said Scott. The proposed plan is for the NWU to be the primary working uniform used in all Navy communities and duties, including watchstanding. The NWU is also being designed for wear outside the gate. Sailors will be able to go off base without having to change from the working uniform into their service uniform or civilian clothes.

With the CNO’s approval for a wear test, the Navy is working to provide as many possible options for Sailors to choose from during the wear-test period.

Among the options will be:

  • Woodland versus digital pattern
  • Blue versus gray as the uniform’s predominant color
  • Tapered blouse versus standard-style blouse
  • Rounded versus pointed collar
  • Performance T-shirt versus cotton undershirt
  • Pleated versus non-pleated trousers
  • Elastic versus adjustable waistband
  • Button versus zipper trousers
  • No-polish suede versus polished leather boots
  • 8-point versus round top cover
  • Pocket locations and design
The Navy also plans to wear test a blue parka that will ultimately match the design pattern of the final working uniform. The parka will be designed for wear in various weather conditions, including sub-freezing temperatures, wind, and heavy rain.

Although the NWU was designed to address the concerns of the fleet, Scott said a test of how the uniforms will truly respond to the needs of Sailors can only be determined by a fleetwide wear test and evaluation before being mass produced.

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