YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Sailors in uniform will soon be able to talk on their cell phones while walking — but they may need to get used to holding their phone in their left hand.

Effective March 12, sailors will be able to use portable electronic devices while walking in their working and service uniforms, as well as wear the devices on the side or back of their belts, according to a Jan. 11 message issued by Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson, chief of naval personnel.

However, talking on the phone won’t excuse sailors from saluting officers with their right hand.

“Communications devices will be placed at the side of the leg and in the appropriate hand when rendering salutes, greetings and other military courtesies/honors,” according to the message.

Phones and other devices should be “conservative in color and design” and not distract from the uniform’s appearance, the message stated.

Ear pieces and hands-free devices remain prohibited unless used for official duties, according to the message.

The approval of wearing electronic devices was one of several new uniform regulations approved by the Chief of Naval Operations on Jan. 25, including the following:

• Chief petty officers will soon have the option of purchasing a new stainless steel cutlass for wear at ceremonial events. The cutlass, which includes a 26-inch blade and a base engraved with four anchors, is expected to be available in August;

• Female officers and chiefs will be able to wear an over-blouse with their poly/wool service khaki uniforms;

• Air crews in the continental United States must wear their green flight suits with black undershirts; overseas, they may wear tan flight suits with brown undershirts, or as directed by their commander.

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