Naples sailors get opportunity to show off new test uniforms
January 19, 2005
NAPLES, Italy — Milan. Paris. New York. Naval Support Activity Naples?
OK, so the conference room of the Capo Tower doesn’t have a famous catwalk, and the clothing isn’t quite haute couture. But it was a bit of fashion nonetheless for Petty Officer 2nd Class Shonta Prince, who volunteered to test-wear samples of what could become the new Navy service uniform.
“Anything that has to do with fashion, I’m there,” said the 24-year-old information systems technician stationed at Naval Support Activity Naples as she strutted in her polyester-wool blend gray blouse and black skirt at the Capodichino Tower conference room on Tuesday.
NSA Naples, along with 11 other Navy facilities worldwide, are the test sites for the new uniform prototypes. About 600 sailors from around the world will be testing service and utility uniforms for durability, comfort, ease and overall appearance.
Naples sailors are testing the service uniforms.
“I like them already. Look, pants that actually fit,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Allyson Gaylor, a petite 22-year-old, size 4 or 6 air traffic controller who still shops for clothing in the kiddie/teen section.
Each of the 12 Navy test sites has ponied up about 50 sailors who make up what’s been dubbed, “Task Force Uniform” to decide the new uniforms for E-6s and below.
For the next six months, the sailors will take notes on a number of options, such as whether they prefer the 75 percent polyester/25 percent wool, hand washable uniforms over the 55 percent/45 percent dry-clean-only combination; whether they would rather have rating badges on their sleeves or on their collars; and if they’d rather wear the gray blouse/black bottom combination over the khaki/black look.
Participants will give their opinions in two Web-based surveys, one midway through the six-month trial period and one at the end, said Ken Jackson, a textile technologist for Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility in Natick, Mass.
After a small fashion show Thursday of the new uniform designs, sailors at Naval Station Rota, Spain, will start test-wearing the utility versions next week, said base spokeswoman Lt. Allie Freeman. About 50 Rota sailors will test four proposed designs, including two sets with digitally created camouflage and two sets with standard markings.
“It fits pretty good,” Petty Officer 2nd Class Jermaine Kelley, 25, said moments after stepping into his gray-black service uniform. The postal clerk at Naples said he digs the color. “It takes some getting used to, but I think it fits the Navy better. Our ships are gray.”
Comfort is key for Petty Officer 2nd Class Caleb Hunter, 24, who also gave an initial approval.
“I haven’t had it on long, but it seems comfortable, more comfortable than [our current uniforms] so far,” said the aviation machinists mate. “The [gray] color is all right, but we care more for comfortability, not color.”
Staff writer Ben Murray contributed to this report from Rota, Spain.