Sailors will wear the winner of a two-coat competition between a Coast Guard parka, left, and a coat worn by Canadian sailors, right. (Mike Morones / Staff)
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The army all-weather coat has been approved for wear over most Navy uniforms. (Progam Executive Office Soldier)
This winter's new fashion statement for sailors: the trench coat.
The Navy on Nov. 30 approved sailors to wear the black double-breasted coat worn by the Army.
Uniform officials also announced wear-testing of two styles of cold-weather jackets this season, according to a fleetwide message, NAVADMIN 360/12.
When it comes to raincoats, the service is phasing out its current version, a ho-hum garment officials admit looks like a tent.
"We were looking for a more sharp and professional appearance," said Rear Adm. Tony Kurta, the director of military plans and policy for the chief of naval personnel, who explained that Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Ill., will soon begin issuing the black trench coat to recruits.
"We just had feedback from a number of places on the current all-weather coat and the fact that it just doesn't present the most military of appearances," Kurta said in a recent interview. "It's not a tailored fit in any way. It just hangs in a V- or a tent-shape."
Sailors will be able to buy the trench coat from uniform stores by the end of January, the message said, as an optional uniform. At some point, the Navy plans to shift entirely over to the trench coat, and will almost certainly add it to the seabag.
The Marines wear a green version of the trench coat, with an additional gun flap on the chest.
Army exchanges sell the male version of the black trench coat for $97.40 and the female version for $91.85. The Navy raincoat has been sold for $81.55 and $81, respectively.
Once the Navy starts issuing the black trenches to recruits, officials hope the purchasing power will decrease the price, which is managed for the services by the Defense Logistics Agency.
"As we add to their buy, we hope to lower their price," Kurta said. "Today, this one is a little bit more than ours. But once we work with DLA, in the future, that may or may not be the case."
The trench coat is made of a polyester-cotton blend; a liner can be zipped inside for additional warmth. Petty officers, chiefs and officers will wear rank insignia on both epaulets.
The coat can be worn over most uniforms: coveralls, the service uniform, summer whites and khakis, as well as the formal attire of service dress, full dress and dinner dress uniforms, both whites and blues — pretty much everything but flight suits and the Navy working uniform.
Remove your insignia and you can wear the coat with street clothes.
This winter, testers are trying out two new parkas, trying to settle on what to offer sailors when the peacoat won't cut it.
To speed up the process, the Navy is testing off-the-shelf jackets already in use — one by Coast Guardsmen, one by Canadian sailors.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert recently asked uniform officials to look at cold-weather jackets, with the goal of offering a warmer jacket for sailors assigned to cold regions.
"He wanted something for the cold weather," Kurta said. "So we looked at what was commercially available, what we could wear-test very quickly for quick adoption."
The first model is a black jacket worn by members of the Canadian navy. It is a heavy, waterproof parka with sewn-in insulation that swathes the body from the neck to midthigh. It has a rolled-up hood with reflective tape, which officials also plan to add to the wrist cuffs, and two big outer pockets. Insignia will be worn on the epaulets.
This parka appears to be extremely warm. The possible downsides: The angled zippers don't match the styling of other uniforms, and because the coat lacks layering, it could be too warm in some instances.
The other option is a black version of the blue, three-in-one parka worn by U.S. Coast Guardsmen. The waterproof outer shell has a center rank tab, similar to the NWU parka, for your insignia. The shell has two zip-in liners: a fleece liner and a lighter, water-repellent jacket, which can be worn as a stand-alone garment and sports its own rank tab.
The parkas will be tested with service and service dress uniforms by 100 sailors in the Midwest, Northeast and Northwest this winter, according to the message. The hope is to quickly find and field cold-weather coats for service uniforms that can match the options available for the Navy Working Uniform, which has a parka and fleece, or the mustang jackets worn in the fleet.