new navy uniform in the air force times studios. Montana Sor models the uniform
Sailors love their dress uniforms — an iconic tie with past generations of bluejackets. their dress uniforms that is -- just to be clear. 's that uniform in which the Navy keeps its formal tie with past generations of sailors exists.
But some are asking whether sailors need white and blue crackerjacks, as officials try to slim down the seabag.
"My opinion, as well as that of many people I work with, [is] the dress whites should go away," said Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class (AW) Kevin Barnes, who's currently stationed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
The fielding of the redesigned crackerjack blues and whites are about a year away, and Navy Times asked readers for their opinions on whether the Navy should keep both — as the only service to have distinctive summer and winter dress uniforms.
For most of the past century, 100 years or more, the distinctive blue and white crackerjacks with the bell bottoms and the back flap in the back of the U.S. Navy have remained consistently one of the most "traditional" uniforms in the U.S. military. During that time, they were only abandoned for a short time and returned because sailors wanted them. For many, it's part of the reason they joined the Navy.
Officials want to simplify the sailor's seabag, but there's no move on the table right now to eliminate any dress uniforms. Still, this could yield seabag simplicity and big cost savings. But in an era of looking for savings and simplicity, going to a single dress uniform, some officials agree, could provide the Navy with a little of both.
Only a brief period of time in late 1970's and early 1980's did the Navy abandon these distinctive dress uniforms. And in the end, they returned to the fleet — because sailors asked for them.For some, it's part of the reason they joined the Navy
Navy Times asked sailors if they thought they sailors could get by with only a single dress uniform — and the results showed sailors arebe split on the issue.
With the fielding of the redesigned crackerjack blues and whites about a year away, and Navy Times asked sailors if they think readers for their opinions on whether the Navy should keep both and remain the as the only service to have distinctive summer and winter dress uniforms. The results show sailors are split on the issue.
But there's a new debate brewing in the fleet that could spread to Washington. It's whether E-6 and below sailors need two separate dress uniforms.Or, in a seabag that's already been over-expanded over the years, could one be eliminated to save time, space and money?For tThose in favor of cutting, they agree on the best solution: Dump the whites. The summer dress uniforms Dress whites are hard to care for and keep clean, especially aboard ship where sailors can typically wear them once before they need a cleaning. No one suggested nixing the told Navy Times they'd like to nix the blues, it's always the whites getting the axe, because they're so hard to take care of and most — especially those shipboard, only get one wear between cleanings. No one responding to the Navy Times query suggested nixing the blues — though many expressed doubts a version could be made that would be comfortable in hot weather.
"My opinion as well as that of many people i work with the dress whites should go away," said said Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class (AW) Kevin Barnes currently stationed at Naval Air Station Patuxent Rver, Maryland.
"The most common use for the whites is manning the rails on ships, and white and Navy [crackerjacks]ships don't mix," Barnes said. "By the time you get to the flight deck, you have at least two black marks on your pants, and they don't wash very well," Barnes said. "It ends up be[ing] easier to just buy a new set."
Barnes said he experienced another problem, when it rains if it should rain — his ribbons bleed onto the uniform and that trashes the blouse.
"Colors run, and you end up with a rainbow on your jumper," he Barnes added.
The redesigned service dress blues feature improvements like a side zipper on the blouse and pockets and a zipper in the trousers.
Photo Credit: Alan Lessig/Staff
Others agree that the blues are just more practical.And it's that practicality that bugs most those in favor of ditching the whites.
"I personally think that we should keep just the dress blues," said Airman Alejandro Vergara, an Air Department sailor aboard from V3 Division onboard the carrier Abraham Lincoln. "They are easy to maintain and barely require dry cleaning and ironing because the fabric does not wrinkle easily. Dress whites are a complete hassle, they require to be ironed and dry cleaned after one use because they get dirty really easy."
More sailors said they would be would be in favor of just the blues, but don't believe the Navy can pull off a redesigned blues that are comfortable and sharp looking. Until then, they're happy with whites and blues. just one dress uniform, but don't believe the Navy can pull off a cool pair of blues and until that happens — they want the status quo.
"I really do not believe that designers could design a uniform that provided enough warmth for an extreme cold environment, yet make that same garment lightweight and cool and comfortable for 95 degrees and 100 percent humidity," said Logistics Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Joseph A. Johnson, assigned to currently at Navy Expeditionary Command Pacific in Hawaii. "To those who think this is possible, please man the rails in your dress whites in February from the deck of an aircraft carrier while pulling into Yokosuka, Japan, during snow flurries."
Still, many sailors just think Big Navy's been monkeying with uniforms too much lately and think it's just time to leave well enough alone.
"If I had to choose one I would pick the dress blues, but I don't think the Navy should do away with either," said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Christopher Jones "Too much has been changing in the Navy [in] amongst recent years, and I feel these uniforms hold what tradition we have left."
Female sailors are wear testing "Dixie cups" and service dress blue jumpers.
Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.