Norfolk, Va. – The Navy will issue all sailors fire-retardant clothing while afloat, introducing two new fire-retardant coveralls over the next three years.
The decision comes after tests revealed that current uniforms ‘will burn robustly until completely consumed’ and also melt, potentially causing further injuries to sailors, according to the Navy Times.
Fire test of Navy uniform
Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, and Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, announced Thursday a three-part plan that includes issuing two new fire-retardant coveralls, the first within nine months and a longer-term solution over the next three years.
The first new coverall, the release said, will take its design from the existing standard-issue coverall, but will be made with the fire-retardant fabric already worn by sailors working in repair lockers.
This new interim coverall would be used only by surface forces and for carrier crews except those on the flight deck who have their own FR gear. Coverall variants such as the “electrical coveralls” worn by electricians and “engineering coveralls” worn in main propulsion spaces are still authorized.
Submariners will continue to use the issue polyester and cotton coveralls for now as they have “low-lint” requirements.
The final part of the plan, expected to last three years, is to develop a new fire-retardant coverall that meets the needs of all communities in a joint effort between the Navy Exchange and the Defense Logistics Agency. The release says this coverall would be fire retardant, provide “arc flash protection and contains low lint levels.”
The Navy stopped requiring that uniforms be flame resistant in 1996. Marine Corps and Army uniforms are fire-resistant.
The Navy’s current Type I NWU, as it’s known, is half cotton and half nylon. It 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.