U.S. Navy Command ball caps are making a comeback by popular demand.
Starting Sept. 1, U.S. Navy commanding officers will be authorized to allow their sailors to wear command ball caps with Navy Working Uniforms Types I, II, and III. The change was announced Friday by the chief of naval personnel. Officials said feedback from sailors at all hands calls spurred the decision to bring the caps back.
Command ball caps used to be a mainstay with utility uniforms; they identified the ship a sailor belonged to and also were a source of pride. However, when utilities were replaced by Navy Working Uniforms, that uniform came with a matching eight-point cover. As a result, in 2010, the Navy implemented tighter rules on the use of ball caps.
Under the current policy, these ball caps are allowed only with physical training attire, coveralls and flight suits. Sailors wearing Navy Working Uniforms may wear command ball caps only when standing bridge watch or during training.
While bringing the ball caps back has been welcomed by many sailors, the decision also has critics. Concerns range from a sailor’s appearance — the combination of ball a cap with the digital pattern of the working uniform — to the broader impact of camaraderie in the Navy.
“You should be in uniform representing the Navy, not just your individual unit or entity,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Michael Minotto, stationed at Naval Support Activity Bahrain. “We need to understand we’re all serving the same team.”
The change is not intended to eliminate the eight-point Navy Working Uniform cover, which will remain part of the standard sea bag, officials said. An official document outlining the new policy will be released in the next few weeks.