Operations Specialist 2nd Class Martin Vories compares the new flame resistant variant (FRV) coverall with standard coveralls worn by Aviation Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Mark Birzer. When worn with correct battle dress, the FRV will provide sailors with increased levels of protection against a variety of flame and flash fire hazards associated with shipboard operating conditions. (U.S. Navy photo by Melinda Larson/Released)
The Navy is working on a new and improved version of the getting closer to replacing the oft-maligned fire-resistant coveralls issued to sailors last year.
The chief of naval personnel, Vice Adm. Bill Moran, said in a Feb. 3 all-hands call that sailors' gripes have been heard loud and clear. A new version is in the works and is a joint effort between Fleet Forces Command, the master chief petty officer of the Navy and his office, which handles most uniform items.
"When we put those out we didn't do a lot of research," Vice Adm. Bill Moran told sailors. "We didn't do as much research and wear testing as we should have done. They showed up very stiff, very heavy, weren't breathable, and they discolored when they went through the laundry. Lots of issues with it."
After going back to the drawing board, officials emerged with a An official who has seen drawings of the new prototype coverall that looks like a said the uniform looked like a cross between an aviator's flight suit and a NASCAR driver's racing suit, according to a source who's seen drawings.
The flame-resistant variant coveralls — or FRVs — were developed by the fleet bosses Fleet Forces Command and fast-tracked to the fleet as organizational clothing after the previous coveralls worn underway and the blue Navy working uniform cammies were discovered to be too flammable to be considered safe underway.
A report obtained by Navy Times late in 2012 detailed tests conducted by the Navy that showed the NWU would "burn robustly" if it was exposed to fire and could melt to sailors' skin.
FFCleet Forces turned to on the new uniforms and began issuing them in late 20134, but sailors have complained that it's too hot, fits poorly and shrinks in the wash.
Moran said the new coverallsuniform would be an improvement.
"We've taken all that feedback from sailors like on the [aircraft carrier George H.W.] Bush, who spent nine months at sea with that uniform and others, and we've now redesigned that uniform and we're in the process of going out on bids to produce a new FRV that answers a lot of those concerns," he said.
FFC spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Katie Hodgins said Feb. 4 that the improved FRVs are in development and that wear testing of new coveralls would start in late spring or early summer.