Navy Working Uniform (NWU) Concepts Frequently Asked Questions

Story Number: NNS050113-01Release Date: 1/13/2005 7:22:00 AM
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From Task Force Uniform Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- This article has been updated as of Dec. 20, 2012, to clarify information for Sailors and their families.

Why are we doing this? Why a new working uniform?

One of the four main objectives of the Task Force Uniform charter, which was signed out by the Vice Chief of Naval Operations in February 2003, was to develop a working uniform for wear at sea or ashore, across all communities, from E-1 through O-10. The more than 40,000 Sailors who took part in the fleetwide survey told us that the current working uniforms are not practical for the Navy working environment, are too costly and difficult to maintain, and do not reflect a professional military appearance. The majority of those
surveyed said they preferred a BDU-style uniform.

What is the plan for wear-testing the Navy Working Uniform concept?

The fleetwide wear test, currently underway, will be conducted at commands around the world and across the spectrum of different platforms. Approximately 60 participants, both male and female, officer and enlisted, will wear-test these concept uniforms at each of the following commands/locations:

USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, Norfolk, Va.
USS Tarawa, San Diego
USS Germantown, San Diego
USS Chung-Hoon, Pearl Harbor
USS Iwo Jima, Norfolk, Va.
USS McFaul, Norfolk, Va.
USS Philippine Sea, Mayport, Fla.
USS San Francisco, Guam
Patrol Squadron (VP) 1, Whidbey Island, Wash.
Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137, Whidbey Island, Wash.
Patrol Squadron (VP) 26, Brunswick, Maine/Aviation Intermediate Maint. Dept.
Brunswick, Maine
Afloat Training Group, Norfolk, Va.
Afloat Training Group, San Diego
Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill.
Master-at-Arms "A" School, San Antonio
Special Warfare Logistic Support Group, San Diego Naval Mobile Construction
Battalion, Port Hueneme, Calif.
Amphibious Construction Battalion 2, Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va.
Naval Station Rota, Spain
Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan
Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron 25, Norfolk, Va.

When will we see this new uniform implemented in the fleet?

After the completion of the six-month wear test, data will be collected from the fleetwide survey, and results and recommendations will be brought to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). The final decision on the Navy Working Uniform will be made by CNO, and if a final version is approved, the goal will be to phase in the new uniform to Sailors in the fleet within 18-24
months from that point.

How much will the new uniforms cost Sailors?

The cost of the new working uniform will be determined once the decision has been made on the final uniform. The four concepts offer different features, including separate options on pockets and closures, various fabrics and footwear. Until a decision is made on the final version, prices for the working uniforms cannot be set.

However, the normal wear life of these uniform concepts are each designed to last up to 18 months, compared to the current working uniform wear life of six months. This means significant savings in maintenance and replacement costs for Sailors.

Why these colors?

We wanted to choose colors that would be distinctive to our naval service, to give our Sailors a recognizable uniform apart from other services and appropriate to the maritime environment. The colors we chose were haze gray, deck gray, navy coverall blue and black. The name tapes on these uniforms will be gold for chiefs and officers, and silver for E-1 through E-6 members.

By using colors that are traditional Navy colors, we continue to uphold our naval heritage while giving our Sailors a uniform that is much more practical for our working environment.

Why the 'camouflage' pattern?

The concept uniforms are not intended to be 'camouflage' uniforms as is the case with similarly patterned uniforms of the other services. We have no
need for camouflage. However, by learning from our past working uniforms as well as the uniforms from other services, the Navy realized that a solid cover uniform shows heavy wear areas much more predominantly than a
multicolored pattern.

The solid color uniforms also show wrinkles in the fabric more predominantly, and often a small stain or spot of paint renders a solid colored uniform not wearable. A multicolored uniform alleviates those problems, as well.

The wear test will offer a chance to evaluate a traditional woodland pattern and a modern digital pattern for the working uniform.

What about Sailors who operate in tactical environments, such as Seabees, SEALs?

The NWU concept is designed to be a working uniform, not a tactical uniform. When Sailors are working in tactical environments, such as the desert, or in the field, they will still be outfitted with the appropriate tactical uniforms. Part of the working uniform will include a Gore-Tex parka, as well as a turtleneck sweater to protect against adverse weather conditions.

Will Sailors be allowed to wear this uniform off base?

Yes. This uniform is being designed to be authorized for wear off base while commuting to and from work, but not on liberty.

What about maintenance/care of these uniforms?

These year-round uniforms are intended to be wash-and-wear. Future Navy ships are being built without dry cleaning facilities; Sailors did not like the idea of putting an iron to a uniform in which they are going to be doing heavy work.

Being able to take a uniform straight from the dryer and put up on the hanger for daily wear is much more practical and appeasing to both Sailors' busy schedules and pocketbooks.

In addition, the camouflage pattern will permit mending of small rips in uniform fabric, saving Sailors considerably in replacement costs.

What about shipboard fire safety? Or visibility and floatation in case of a Sailor falling overboard?

No current Navy uniform in the seabag was developed purposefully to fight a shipboard fire or to enhance visibility or floatation in the water. Every Navy ship is equipped with the Fire Fighting Ensemble (FFE) and necessary personal protective equipment to combat shipboard fires, as well as floatation gear with flares and dyes for those purposes.

What about the wear test survey?

Sailors will be asked for their opinions of the concept uniforms approximately 60 days after the wear test begins. This survey will be available electronically; all Sailors will be allowed to participate regardless if they have worn or seen the actual concept uniforms firsthand.

Task Force Uniform will take into account feedback from our Sailors to help design the best possible uniforms for the present and future needs of our Navy.

Throughout the process, the feedback Task Force Uniform receives from Sailors will influence working uniform wear policies, most of which will be driven by the outcome of the wear test.

Can I wear my command ball cap?

Command ballcaps have already been wear tested in the fleet, so they will not need to be included in this wear test. During the wear test, only two covers will be tested, the round cover and the eight-point cover, both in the digital and woodland patterns. No current uniform covers will be worn in the wear test. The wear of command ball caps will be addressed when the final wear policies are decided.

How will the wear policy for these uniforms be decided?

The wear policy will be developed through convention and wear test, and will not be finalized until all of the feedback and data have been fully evaluated.

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