Your Navy

Lawmakers push back against Navy peacoat changes

House lawmakers are pushing back against a Navy plan to make the iconic peacoat an optional piece of attire in a sailor's seabag.

Navy Personnel Command announced last summer that the peacoat, all-weather coat and reefer coat would become optional items as of Oct. 1, 2018. 

The Navy plans to transition to the black cold-weather parka for the service and service dress uniforms to reduce up-front costs for sailors and offer more versatile outerwear.

But language in the House Armed Services Committee's draft of the fiscal 2018 defense bill expresses concern that the Navy policy change will harm the American textile industry that pumps out the peacoats. 

The draft also calls on the Secretary of the Navy — currently a vacant position — to explain the peacoat change.

"The committee is concerned this decision was made without considering upgrades or alternatives to the traditional peacoat or the impact to the nation's domestic textile industrial base," the draft states.

The House defense bill directs the Secretary of the Navy to provide a briefing by Oct. 1 explaining why the Navy removed the peacoat from mandatory seabag requirements and what alternatives were considered regarding peacoat improvements and upgrades.

It also calls for any cost evaluations of the cold-weather parka compared to the peacoat and all-weather coat, as well as an assessment of how changes will impact the domestic textile industry.

A stable domestic textile industrial base will be important as the Department of the Navy works to streamline its uniforms, the draft bill states.

It remains unclear whether lawmakers' concerns about the peacoat will make it into the defense bill that is eventually passed into law.

The House still must vote on the draft, which is expected later this month.

That legislation must be reconciled with the Senate, which has yet to pass the Senate Armed Services Committee draft.

Either way, the peacoat means big money.

Sterlingwear of Boston received a contract worth up to $48 million in 2015 to manufacture the coats.

Sterlingwear Vice President and Chief Operating Officer David Fredella said in March that the phasing out of the traditional peacoat could cost hundreds of jobs and herald the end of New England woolen manufacturing.

"We believe that the U.S. Navy was unaware of the collateral damage of their decision to phase out the wool Peacoat," he told the East Boston Times-Free Press. 

Recommended for you
Around The Web