NORFOLK (NNS) -- U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) and U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) will distribute flame-resistant coveralls to the shipboard Sailors beginning early next year.
The two fleet commanders decided to approve a Flame Resistant Variant (FRV) coverall to ensure the safety of all shipboard Sailors after reviewing the findings of the Organizational Clothing Working Group.
"We made the decision to supply flame-resistant coveralls to all Sailors assigned to ships as an added safety precaution," said Adm. Bill Gortney, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. "Sailors at sea operate in an environment with inherent risks. We are always looking for ways to mitigate those risks."
The FRV coverall will combine the existing blue utility coverall design with the flame-resistant fabric of the repair locker coverall.
In January, the Organizational Clothing Working Group began reviewing all the clothing requirements and flame resistant qualities of fleet organizational clothing being worn at sea - on ships, submarines and in expeditionary units.
"We reviewed all fire-related mishap reports and major ship conflagrations over the past 30 years. We looked at personnel injuries sustained as a result of explosive blast, electric arc flash, flame and smoke," said Capt. Bruce Brosch, team lead for the Organizational Clothing Working Group. "We found the highest risk of severe injury from flame would be from a major conflagration - a fire or explosion large enough to go beyond the control of repair parties and threaten ship survival. The Navy has averaged one to two major conflagrations per year over the past thirty years."
Flame resistant organizational clothing had previously been limited to Sailors working in engineering departments, on flight decks and in other high-risk areas, but the working group ultimately decided every Sailor afloat should be outfitted with the additional protection.
The bottom line was simple. Any Sailor at sea could be on the end of a hose fighting a fire with little or no notice.
The Navy will initially issue two pairs of FRV coveralls to each Sailor serving on board surface ships and aircraft carriers. Type commanders will prioritize the distribution.
The coverall is expected to maintain performance properties, durability and appearance for typical deployments of six to nine months, with an optimal wear life of 18-24 months. Like other organizational clothing, the FRV coveralls will be replaced by each ship over time based on normal wear and tear.
Materials that make the coveralls flame-resistant are incorporated into the fabric fibers. Wear life is dependent on many factors, including wear and cleaning frequency, cleaning method and environmental exposure.
Research by the Organizational Clothing Working Group revealed numerous different organizational clothing styles and types being used throughout the fleet. In order to standardize fleet coverall usage, a longer-term solution is also being researched. The goal is to eventually combine the flame-resistant properties of the existing engineering/damage control coveralls with the arc flash protection of the existing electrical coverall and submarine low-lint specifications. The new coverall design will be modeled after the existing poly-cotton utility coverall issued in the sea-bag.
The Navy is using available fleet funding to pay for this organizational clothing. Currently, the estimated per-unit cost for the FRV coverall is $50.24. The cost to research and issue the new FRV coverall is approximately $12 million.
The Organizational Clothing Working Group findings were passed to a second group, the Shipboard Clothing Working Group, which is tasked to determine the requirements for all at-sea clothing. Findings from the Shipboard Clothing Working Group are expected later this year.