Attention to Detail

Top Five Mistakes Sailors are Making Wearing the Navy Working Uniform

Navy Photo

Graphic illustration by Willie Kendrick, Defense Media Activity - Navy.

In an effort to address concerns about the proper wear of the Navy Working Uniform (NWU), MCPON(AW/NAC) Mike Stevens is educating the fleet on the proper wear of the uniform. Below are the five most common mistakes made in wearing the NWU throughout the fleet and how to correct them according to NAVPERS 15665, U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations and NAVADMIN 366/11.

1. Improper Wear of Cover

WRONG: Rolling the brim, wearing the cover too high or too low, tilting to the side, or backwards.

RIGHT: The cap will be worn, forward, squarely on the head so the visor and headband are level to the deck and the visor is just above the eyes (NAVPERS 15665, Article 3603.1). Headgear shall fit snugly and comfortably around the largest part of the head without distortion, and no hair will show from under the front of the brim.

2. Incorrect Fit

WRONG: Shirts too big or too small, rolling sleeves too high or too low, or not wearing a belt.

RIGHT: Shirt length must extend to the bottom of the crotch, but not lower than the middle of the cargo pocket flap. No gapping at front of shirt as both sides of shirt opening must overlap. Sleeve cuff should cover the wrist bone, but not extend further than the first knuckle at the base of the thumb. Rolled sleeves should form a three-inch band with the cuff buttoned and fabric side out, positioned two inches above the elbow. All buttons and must be secured. Belt must go through all belt loops, and a plain buckle must align with the opening of the fly. A decorated buckle shall be worn centered.

3. Worn in Unauthorized Areas

WRONG: Inside the Pentagon, around the National Mall, or for commercial airline, train or bus travel.

RIGHT: Can be worn at all facilities on base, while commuting to and from work in a privately owned vehicle or public transportation, and on government-contracted flights to and from overseas locations (NAVPERS 15665, Article 3603). Can be worn for all normal tasks and associated stops before, during and after the workday. This includes stopping at child care, gas stations, off-base shopping, banking, DMV and dining. Can be worn by recruiters in malls, schools or other recruiting areas (NAVADMIN 366/11). The area or regional commander may further restrict uniform policy within their geographic limits.

NOTE: NWUs are not a liberty uniform. Consumption of alcohol in NWUs is not permitted.

4. Bad Blousing

WRONG: Pants unbloused, tucked into boots, or too high or too low.

RIGHT: NWU trousers should be worn with the belt at the waistline with legs long enough to touch the deck when not wearing boots. Use blousing straps and position the fold between the third and fourth eyelets on the boots (NAVPERS 15665, Article 3603.6).

5. Unauthorized Boots

WRONG: Anything other than the three types of authorized boots.

RIGHT: The only boots authorized for wear with the NWU are as follows. A black, plain, steel-toe smooth all-leather high-top (9-inch) safety boot with oil resistant rubber outsoles and speed-lace eyelet closures. A rough-out leather safety boot is authorized for Sailors at shore commands only. Bootlaces will be tucked in neatly (NAVPERS 15665, Article 3603.9). Also, Sailors whose primary duties are performed on the flight line and flight deck, and who are issued aviation flight deck boots as organizational clothing, are authorized to wear the flight deck boot with the NWU while commuting. The approved non-spark safety boot is a black, all leather (smooth), 8-inch boot with FOD outsole, lace-to-toe closure and steel safety toe (NAVADMIN 271/09).

Comments (25)

  1. Shmoo
    M.N. Muhammad February 24, 2014

    I'm a Navy Vet. 78-93 I like the uniform (working), hate the khaki whatchamacallit, can't tell anybody apart. I graduated bootcamp arrived at LAX and was immediately asked by a civilian to take their luggage to a car. I was maybe the 3rd person to buy a crackerjack uniform in pearl, I was so proud to LOOK like a sailor, just like my dad in WWII. Now they look like Marine Corp aviation crews in 1946. I can't figure out the fiscal reason's but I'd bet dollars to navy beans somebody's getting paid way up the food chain. At least now a sailor can wear a working uniform off base (salt and pepper's weren't that bad)

  2. Shmoo
    MAX November 8, 2013

    It seems like the NWU is more of a recruitment tool. The Navy "needed" a cool digi uniform to attract fresh 18 year olds. It looks stupid, k Like wannabe SEALs or something. I cut my teeth wearing the dungarees and boon dockers. They were practical even with the goofy front pants pockets and Alcatraz chic. I liked the Johnny Cash, too. I loathe the kaki shirt with Black pants--looks like an amalgamation of US Marines and Nazi SA uniforms--not a good look. I'm not sure why BIG Mullen brought back the dress khakis, either. There are already so many variations of uniform to buy and maintain. Sailors need to look sharp, but things can be made much simpler for all. What was so bad about beards, braids and earrings? :-)

  3. Shmoo
    Bill Dutton August 10, 2013

    Its funny that the Navy has to reinvent the uniform wheel every 3 or 4 years and still never learns a thing! I remember wearing the salt and pepper uniform with the ceritfied Navy twill that was highly flammable and the Corfam dress shoes that both of which melted to your body in a fire. I know when the USS Stark got hit quite a few of the guys were very badly burned and had flammable dungerees and Kaki uniforms that melted to their bodies! During my 20 years in we changed the enlisted dress uniforms 3 times from cotton cracker jacks to the CPO types coat and tie and back to the very less durable non cotton black not Navy blue craker jacks. Also went fron the old cotton dungerees to utilities and back to the very cheaply made dungerees that were comfortable but faded very quickly in the shipboard laundry. Why oh why does the Navy need the new NWU? Its not easy to spot an officer or Chief now in the hangerbay without the kakis on! The Coast Guard working uniform looks much better and is

  4. Shmoo
    Drew April 6, 2013

    The reg does not say anything about specific brands of boots being required. Sailors whose primary duty is on the flight deck are the only ones authorized to wear the flight deck boot, why? Anyone should be allowed to wear them. The 9" requirement, which isn't even in the reg, only the title, serves no purpose other than to force sailors into the Bates brand. Look at the boot, you will see that Bates simply sewed on an extra 1" piece of leather onto their original 8" boot. The regulation should be 8" to 10" to give every sailor the opportunity to find a boot that meets the requirements and is comfortable on their feet. There is ALMOST always a good reason for regs, but I see no good reason in having the 9" requirement on the NWU boot. Good sailors are on their feet many hours of the day, give them the opportunity to purchase a nice set of boots by changing this reg.

  5. Shmoo
    William April 5, 2013

    I think what bothers me the most about any of these uniforms is that it's made to be a "wash and wear" type of uniform. We're in the freakin' United States Military, here and we're not supposed to iron the uniform?! I remember needing to have creases in my cammies (yes I'm a Seabee) and now with the type III NWU, I'm not even allowed to iron anything other than the collar. What happened to the military looking sharp and being proud? That is how leaders should judge their new troops (sailors) is when they see how they present themselves in the uniform. If you walk up to me and look like you just pulled that uniform out of the dryer, I don't think you care enough, so I'm going to give you the dirtiest job I can think up. But, kinder and gentler.

  6. Shmoo
    Richard DeJohn April 3, 2013

    The dungarees and blue shirt and ball cap were the best working uniform. Easy to work in and easy to maintain. Wore them from working in DD engine rooms to the flight deck of my carrier. USN - IC2 - CVA 43.

  7. Shmoo
    Howard- Sixties Pac Combat Camera Grp April 4, 2013

    Why have a "marine corp lookalike" uniform that appears to be from a Kmart clearance sale, that can easily catch on fire and melt into the person wearing the outfit and has to be reversed to clean? if you want to look like a Marine, join the Corp. Why did you let them make this out of a material that is flammable? You have to turn the uniform inside out to protect the material from washing damage? i can only imagine wearing this and trying to get aroung diesel fuel, grease and paint. Do you really think one would have time to change out to the FIRE RESISTANT "ENSEMBLE" when the alarm goes off. Quotes from leaders: THE SHIRT AND TROUSERS SHOULD BE LAUNDERED WITH THE FABRIC TURNED INSIDE OUT TO REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF FRICTION ON THE OUTER FABRIC DURING WASHING AND DRYING. FIRE FIGHTING ENSEMBLES ARE PROVIDED FOR SAILORS SPECIFICALLY ASSIGNED TO COMBAT A FIRE.

  8. Shmoo
    Michael March 27, 2013

    Great job by CNOCM getting the word out on standards. Communicate the standard and enforce it. It's not hard. If Sailors cannot wear a uniform properly, it's because they don't understand the standard...or are lazy. I give Sailors the benefit of the doubt the first time..."oh I didn't realize I couldn't wear any boot found at the NEX that was black..." The second time they are just lazy. Sailors are capable of getting to work on time, so they are capable of wearing the proper uniform that is provided to them. It's just like doing proper maintenance. There is a right way and a wrong it the right way, always.

  9. Shmoo
    Comander R Martin US NAVY RETIRED NURSES CORPS March 26, 2013

    I agree with the top post......the Admiral had way too much time on his hands!!!!

  10. Shmoo
    Tom March 25, 2013

    Stupid nonsense. Some Admiral had too much time on his or her hands! They're sailors, not Marines (that goes for the standard uniforms as well.) Just plain stupid to throw out 200 years of tradition, just like Zumwalt did in the 70's, for someone's pet project. Sorry, that's how I feel. Tom - former USN

  11. Shmoo
    DeeDee March 25, 2013

    I love the Blueberries! I think they make the guys look sexy...but I also like the Army's desert cammi....My husband is a Chief, and I don't like the Khaki uniform AT ALL!! What I DO miss are the black pants with the khaki shirt....I hate ALL khaki!!

  12. Shmoo
    Dennis March 25, 2013

    With the budget crisis, I don't see the reason why the Navy keeps changing the uniform every ten years. As a Deck Supervisor and part of SAR team, yes you are right about if a Sailor goes overboard in the NWU's. Some ships require watchstanders to wear the NWU vice Coveralls. It is hard to see them cause they do blend in even with only the blue undershirt on especially at night. Dungarees were the best uniform and comfortable. I was going through my old uniform box and found a pair. They still look inspection ready with the iron-on PO2 crow. As the old saying goes, "If it's not broken, don't fix it."

  13. Shmoo
    Andrew McMenamin March 25, 2013

    Aside from the number one problem of safety (not fire retardant), this uniform is pure ugly. Everyone that had something to do with making this costume a uniform should be fired. It's a joke; a very bad joke. How often do you see senior leadership wear this costume? When was the last time you saw an Admiral wear it during a media interview? Nuff said.

  14. Shmoo
    Retired Master Chief March 23, 2013

    In my 37 years around the Navy, I never could understand why they keep changing uniforms. Going to the NWU is icing on the cake. Except for Seals, SeeBees etc., The uniform makes no sense for Sailors, either ashore or afloat. In hot weather, it's uncomfortable and the laced up boots are ridiculous. Someone must know something.

  15. Shmoo
    roger March 22, 2013

    The last mistake like this was made in the 1970's with the utilities. Anyone remember those? The only difference I see between those and these are 1. These are uglier and 2. They can melt (is that a feature?). Has someone resurrected Adm. Zumwalt?

  16. Shmoo
    AW2 Young Kervin B. March 22, 2013

    When I was active duty wearing a working uniform of base was strictly prohibited. You could not get past the guard at the gate with your work boots on.

  17. Shmoo
    Gene Treants, USN Retired March 22, 2013

    First off, this solves the problem of sailors on shore duty running around in working uniforms in unauthorized places. Since it is authorized almost everywhere it is a great alternative to having to wear a dress uniform. Now - what about work? With the cost of this uniform, I doubt if a lot of Sailors really want to do a lot of work in it. Sea Duty Sailors Still can wear Coveralls at sea (which will not melt when exposed to shipboard fires). However on shore duty, as well as sea duty, Sailors will still have to change to Cammies or Civies so as to save their dress uniforms for really special occasions. (Turn of your Sarcasm detectors please.) My wife did finally explain why Navy needs this uniform: When a Sailors falls overboard, sharks will not see him/her so he/she has a chance to be rescued. Oh, wait, Shipmates may not be able to see him/her either - camouflaged! (And you tough retired Command Master Chief's did not understand!)

  18. Shmoo
    John March 22, 2013

    ooorah! the new Navy robots

  19. Shmoo
    Ron Wiiliams March 22, 2013

    Bet the sailors miss the old navy dungarees and blue ball caps.

  20. Shmoo
    Steve Mavica March 21, 2013

    In find it absurd that there is only one brand of boot you can wear with the NWUs. I had a perfect good pair of boots that fit the same wear and design parameters as the official shoe, yet I could not wear them because some idiot lobbiest convinced the Navy to use ONLY this one brand.

  21. Shmoo
    James W Farley March 21, 2013

    Finally and long overdue. I have seen this uniform in many inappropriate places so I am please to see it is being addressed. Now the important thing is to enforce the policy. CO's need to set the standard.

    1. All Hands Magazine
      Response by All Hands Magazine March 22, 2013

      Thanks James, that's really the issue regardless of the uniform - know the standard, hold the standard.

  22. Shmoo
    Russell March 21, 2013

    Aside from being some desk jockey's idea of a joke, probably because the person never wore a uniform (don't even tell me fleet sailors OKd this)... It seems to invite a reprimand with the many ways which are incorrect in the wearing of this heinous excuse for a uniform. With that being said, I would think the reports that the uniform has the "slightly inconvenient" tendency to MELT when exposed to fire... even a short exposure, there would be more emphasis on REMOVING the uniform from service than instructions on how to wear it. I was proud to wear the uniform for 22 years, as a Damage Controlman, I would hate to think that when I had to do my job as a firefighter, I would be laminated in what is supposed to be the first line of defense of fire fighting gear. Shame on the people in charge for not ridding the fleet of this dreadful mistake.

  23. Shmoo
    Retired MMC March 21, 2013

    I'm still a little confused as to why sailors need an expensive cammy uniform for shore duty. I can't imagine any reason for them to be worn at sea. If I go overboard the last thing I want to do is blend in. I can understand the ground forces needing a uniform to blend into the jungle, but why does a sailor need them? Can someone enlighten me?

  24. Shmoo
    EYE T TOO March 21, 2013

    Simply put, if your uniform looks like you just pulled it out of your sea bag.... Fix it. I believe forget what it means to be in a proper uniform. Yeah the uniform was a tad bit expensive, but, you paid for it, why not make it look presentable. If you buy a pair of high fashion sneakers for $135 and a pair of $90 jeans, Im willing to bet that you made sure you wear them properly.

  25. Shmoo
    Paul Daniel USN Retired March 21, 2013

    This uniform looks like crud,go backto dungarees for Gods sake.

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