Navy tests new uniform designs for lower enlisted sailors
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NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — The Navy is trying out new service uniform styles for lower enlisted sailors that are designed to be more comfortable and worn year round.
The plan is to find one uniform to replace the summer white, winter blue and tropical uniforms.
The Navy unveiled the new designs Wednesday at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. Service uniforms are typically worn at office work spaces at shore bases and commands.
The concepts come in two types: gray or khaki shirts with Navy blue pants or skirts. The prototype with the gray shirt and blue slacks looks slightly like the Air Force’s service uniform. The khaki version looks a lot like the Marine Corps uniform.
The new designs attracted mixed reviews from sailors.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Lenore Gregory, a storekeeper at Naval Station Rota, likes having a year-round uniform but thought the khaki style looked too much like the officer or chief petty officer uniform.
“Oh my goodness,” she said, when she saw the khaki version in a picture. “That’s disgusting. That’s not good at all. We know by the collar devices and the uniforms who’s a chief and who’s not a chief. That kind of separated us. … They couldn’t be ‘khakis’ any more because there’s no distinction.”
Petty Officer 2nd Class Angel Ortiz, a reservist with the base security department, also preferred the gray shirt and Navy slacks.
“They’re going to say you’re a chief or an officer,” Ortiz said of the khaki shirt. “But they do look better.”
About 550 sailors at commands across the globe will test-wear the uniforms this winter. Overseas locations include Naples, Italy, and Yokosuka, Japan.
The prototypes include several options, including sewn-in creases versus pressed creases, and two styles of garrison caps.
For females, the pants and the skirts do not need a belt. The blouse for the females is meant to be untucked and extend over the top of the slacks.
Both shirts will be tested in wool or polyester fabrics for comfort.
After the six-month testing phase, the Navy will collect fleet-wide surveys and hand them to the chief of naval operations. If he decides to change the uniform, the Navy will begin phasing in the new uniform within 18 to 24 months.
A Navy task force conducted more than 40,000 surveys to find out what types of styles sailors would like and what changes they would like to see made to the current uniforms. The group came up with the designs based on that input.
Surveys found that lower-ranking sailors, those in pay rates E-6 and below, were the least satisfied with their uniforms. They especially disliked the summer white uniforms because they got so dirty, the Navy said.