GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- More than 600 of the Navy's newest Sailors stood proudly in ranks on the drill deck of Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall May 5, at Recruit Training Command (RTC), wearing for the first time, the Navy's newest uniform, the updated Service Dress Whites (SDW).
As the graduating recruits stood in formation at the Navy's only boot camp, they created a colorful sea of white as a noticeable number of blue elements have been redesigned into the uniform.
For the first time since 1980, the SDW's jumper-style uniform has undergone a significant change in design for all Sailors E6 and below and incorporates side and front zippers to help ease changing in and out of uniform.
"I like the change in the blue piping as it adds character to the uniform and makes it look dressier, compared to the old jumper top," said Musician 1st Class Joseph Moore, recruit band and choir conductor. "The fit is more athletic along with the zipper allowing for easy removal of the jumper top."
The design itself consists of a jumper flap with navy blue piping on cuffed sleeves, stars and navy-blue piping on the navy collar, and a yoke, making it a "photo-negative" of the Service Dress Blue jumper. The SDW trouser design has not changed.
"The new dress whites look really sharp and I wish I had them when I was a petty officer," said Chief Gunner's Mate Morgan Morgan, Recruit Division Commander. "The contrast looks really great and I think it looks a lot more accurate to the historical Sailor uniform."
The uniforms, issued to recruits at RTC as of October 2017, will be required to be worn by all Sailors by Oct. 31, 2021.
According to Naval History and Heritage Command, the uniform design for the junior Sailors underwent numerous changes since the first attempt at a prescribed uniform in 1817.
Through government procurement, winter and summer uniforms were provided. The winter uniform consisted of a blue jacket and trousers, red vest with yellow buttons and a black hat. However, because of wartime operations in tropical waters and spurred by increased relations with South America, the formerly cold-water Navy prescribed appropriate warm weather gear consisting of a white duck outfit with a black varnished hat.
While the uniform design continues to transform through numerous changes throughout the decades, in 1973, the most sweeping change in the history of enlisted dress occurred, according to NHHC.
Based on a survey conducted in 1970, it appeared that there was some fleet desire, principally among the more senior petty officers, for a different, more distinguished garb. Based on these findings, the Sailor was removed from his traditional uniform and placed in a suit and tie which corresponded to the officer/Chief Petty Officer style.
The intention was to create a single uniform appearance and present enlisted men in a uniform which was thought to reflect the increasing complexity of the modern Navy.
The break with tradition, when coupled with unforeseen inconveniences of the suit and tie uniform, were unacceptable. Therefore, in 1980, the Navy again began to issue the jumper style uniform as a dress uniform to recruits. Women's uniforms also underwent a sweeping change to increase their practicality and to make them more parallel to the men's uniform.
Today, the uniforms reflect a gender-neutral Navy as uniformity is more consistence.
"Embracing the uniformity of the way we look is one step closer to accepting the equality in the way we serve," said Machinist's Mate 1st Class Juliana Gomez, recruit division commander. "Having practical uniforms that still represent our naval heritage shows that our feedback was received and implemented. Adding a zipper on both the service dress jumpers simplified the wear, buttons on the cuffs made it look more professional, but the blue piping on the white added a sense of sharpness and style. I look forward to wearing them upon the seasonal shift."
About 38,000 to 40,000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers. For more news from Recruit Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/rtc/.
To learn more history about all aspects of the U.S. Navy, please visit https://www.history.navy.mil.
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For more news from Recruit Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/rtc/.