Thursday, March 10, 2011

Navy Uniforms: Past, Present and Future

MC2 Kiona Miller
ICC Electrician Virginia Fike searches for newuniform items inside of the Navy Exchange located on the Washington Navy Yard.
The first uniform instruction for the U.S. Navy was issued by the Secretary of War on August 24, 1791. On August 27, 1802 the Secretary of the Navy signed an instruction which set the standard of dress for the Navy in Blue and Gold.

The Navy first authorized the use of dungarees or denim jumpers and trousers in 1901. Next, the dungarees gave way to the utility uniform, and now more than 100 years later, the Navy has done away with the utilities and replaced them with a completely new working uniform.

Information Systems Tec-hnician Seaman Brandon Bain appreciates the new comfort fitting blue and gray digital uniform, but wishes he could wear the working uniform more often.

‘‘I think they’re nice, especially the working uniform. The only thing is I just wish you could travel in them,” he said.

Earlier this year, Jan. 25, the Chief of Naval Operations approved Navy Uniform Board recommendations for the new uniform components. The new regulations are outlined in NAVADMIN 025⁄11.

Regulations include an over-blouse for female officers and chiefs, a new cultlass for chiefs, updated rules for portable communication devices and direction on the appropriate way to wear flight suits.

Navy Exchange Uniform Specialist Fay Ingram has worked as a uniform specialist at the Washington Navy Yard for 32 years. She says the NEX has been seeing strong sales for the new uniform components.

‘‘I can’t keep the new working uniform in stock,” Ingram said.

Chief Interior Communications Electrician Virginia Fike has been wearing the old Navy uniform for 17 years and admits it will be an adjustment to wear the overblouse with the service khaki uniform.

‘‘We are not actually authorized to wear the uniform yet, but I will procure one,” said Fike. ‘‘It will be a change for me because I’m used to wearing it tight tucked in and to have [the blouse] outside my pants is a big change.” Fike says she will begin wearing her uniform on March 25.

Aside from the popular working uniform and overblouse, new changes include the cutlass which is designed to be worn by members of an official party during ceremonies requiring officers to wear swords.

The new cutlass boasts a twenty-six inch stainless steel blade and four laser engraved CPO anchors (CPO, SCPO, MCPO and MCPON) on the base. August is the earliest that the cutlass will be available for purchase.

Uniform directives include a regulation affecting Naval aircrews. The green flight suit will be worn with a black undershirt while in the Continental United States. When aircrews are overseas, tan flight suits with brown undershirts can be worn as determined by the Navy component commander.

Finally, the Uniform Board also addressed changes for the use portable electronic devices while in the service or working uniform. Sailors will be authorized to use the devices, however all devices must be conservative in color and design, and cannot distract from the appearance of the uniform. In addition, sailors must wear the device on the belt below the elbow so as not to interfere with the rendering of military courtesies and honors.

The newest changes will not be the last for Navy uniforms. The uniform board is currently testing a new and improved look to the Navy Dress White uniform to include a more comfortable fit and Navy blue piping on the back flap and sleeve.

More information on uniform regulations can be found online:⁄NR⁄rdonlyres ⁄713FA622-A1A1-46FE-9CB53DAF854ECAD5⁄0⁄NAV11025.txt