Norfolk, Va. – The standard-issue blue camouflage uniforms worn by the Navy are highly flammable, as demonstrated in this Navy testing video.
The Navy stopped requiring that uniforms be flame resistant in 1996. Marine Corps and Army uniforms are fire-resistant.
The Navy’s Type I NWU, as it’s known, is half cotton and half nylon.
The results of the impromptu test in the above video by the Navy’s safety center said the uniform
…will burn robustly until completely consumed… The nylon component of the NWU material is a thermoplastic fiber that melts and drips as it burns. If this sticky molten material came in contact with skin it would contribute to increased burn injury due to conductive energy transfer. The use of the NYCO material in an environment where there is potential for a flame or thermal threat is not recommended.
Rear Adm. John Kirby, Chief of Information for the Navy, released the video and the full results of the October test at The Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility in Natick, Mass. after the Navy Times first reported about it in December.
The Navy Times blasted the uniforms in an editorial last week entitled “For safety’s sake, fix NWU mess – fast”
The current Type I NWU entered service in 2009. Prior to then, the working uniform for enlisted sailors was blue dungarees and a light-blue shirt. Officers wore khaki made from cotton.