Prototype working uniforms the Navy is testing for sea-duty sailors are wrinkly, hot and uncomfortable, according to some trying out the new duds.
Five sailors with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, or NAVCENT, volunteered in May to try on the two-piece, flame-resistant uniform, according to a NAVCENT release.
They are part of more than 300 sailors at 34 afloat and operational shore commands involved in the wear test, which runs through September.
Yeoman 2nd Class Carmina Flores was one of the NAVCENT sailors in the four-month trial.
“I found ironing to be a challenge when preparing the type A uniform for wear,” she told NAVCENT. “The wrinkles were very difficult to get out initially, so it makes maintenance a challenge compared to uniforms already in rotation.”
Another sailor, Yeoman 1st Class Essence Toney, said she didn’t dig one uniform’s light-blue top when worn with dark pants.
NAVCENT Staff Command Master Chief Brian McDonough relayed some other concerns about the fire-resistant duds , too.
“They haven’t been hitting the mark in being comfortable or being durable,” he said. “In a lot of instances the material was too heavy, and it didn’t really provide the appropriate amount of cooling for the Sailor as well.”
One of t Navy’s top goals is to offer sailors a way to deblouse during hot or dirty work that doesn’t require rolling down their coveralls, which could pose safety risks, McDonough said.
Testers received four uniform variations — Class A, B, C and D — along with rules that they could not swap pants and tops between the classes, apply starch or fabric softener or send them to the dry cleaners, since shipboard sailors won’t have such an option.
Getting frank feedback from those who will wear the new uniform is critical, Capt. Mark Runstrom, director of U.S. Fleet Forces Command’s fleet supply operations and services, said in the release.
“From the onset, we’ve wanted this effort to be Sailor-driven and will rely heavily on Sailor input to make final design recommendations to Navy leadership,” he said.
Sailors E-7 and above are testing khaki versions of the uniform, while those E-6 and below are trying on both a dark blue uniform and one featuring a light blue shirt and dark pants.
Like the Navy working uniform, these new outfits will be worn untucked.
Pants will be unbloused, but both the shirt and pants can be tucked quickly for general quarters.
The uniforms also include a low-cut molder boot that has no laces and is held on foot with elastic, making them easier to take on and off.
A wide rigger’s belt will be worn with the uniform and there are no changes planned for ball caps.
Pin-on rank, warfare insignia and name tags are being worn with the prototypes.