Navy surface warfare officers can now order the black leather jacket approved earlier this year for members of the SWO community.

The new unisex attire, similar to the bomber jackets worn by aviators, was first announced in January with the intention that they would become a source of pride and a symbol of tactical expertise for sailors who have earned their SWO pin.

“The Surface Warfare community has a long-standing history of excellence, and a uniquely identifiable item is one way to signify the outstanding achievement and professionalism of our Surface Warfare Officers,” said Vice Adm. Richard Brown, commander of Naval Surface Forces, in a Jan. 9 press release. “Those who wear the jacket will be easily identified as a part of a long lineage of professional ship drivers and maritime warfighters.”

To order their jackets, active and reserve SWOs must fill out an order form on command letterhead and submit it via email.

The Surface Warfare web page also includes detailed instructions on how to order a jacket that fits correctly, and what to do if there is a fitting problem once the jacket is received.

The jacket was originally expected to be available in June, but production and delivery were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Navy now expects to receive at least 600 jackets each month and, if all required sizes are in stock, to begin distribution with admirals, working their way down the officer ranks.

Phased issuance will continue through 2021, the Navy said.

The fully lined, black leather jacket features a center zipper, knitted cuffs, and a waistband. At the time it was announced, a Navy spokesperson expected 6,447 active duty personnel, 1,565 reservists and 356 full-time support sailors to be affected by the change.

While the jacket is meant for wear at sea or aboard a ship, it also can be paired ashore with service uniforms. Leather or cloth name patches are the only patches authorized for wear on the jacket.

Officers who transfer to non-surface warfare designators may keep their jacket. SWOs who retire or separate honorably from the Navy are also not required to turn in their jackets but are no longer eligible for replacement.

Already-retired SWOs are not eligible to receive the jackets, but the Navy stated that they “expect there to be vendors who make their own version of the SWO jacket for retired SWOs to purchase.”

Harm Venhuizen is an editorial intern at Military Times. He is studying political science and philosophy at Calvin University, where he's also in the Army ROTC program.

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