Royal Navy sailors are getting new uniforms that are more practical, cooler and fire-resistant as a prelude to a £78 million revamp of their clothing.
Those are certainly laudible goals. Having served in uniforms what were more fire friendly than fire resistant (double knit), I like these ideas. This appears to be a progressive improvement over the 2015 uniform change (seen in the photo above).
Generally, it appears that the Coast Guard has been more successful with their work uniforms than the USN. Thankfully the Navy “Blueberries” were never a common sight on cutters. Still the current uniform appears heavy for work in hot environments. I can’t speak from personal experience, but I would be happy to hear feedback from those who have had experience with the current uniform. (Complaints and suggestions about the Navy work uniform here.)
Still there is a good possibility there is something we can learn from the Royal Navy’s research into new working uniforms. We might want to look at their conclusions. In addition to HQ to HQ contact on the subject, we currently have Coast Guard enlisted seconded to service with the Royal Navy. Some of them will probably see this new uniform. They are a resource. We ought to debrief them when they return, not just about the uniforms, but about what we might learn from our Old World cousins.
Apparently the new RN uniform will include Goretex and Nomex uniform items. They are likely to be expensive, but worth the cost. That could put a burden on our personnel, particularly junior personnel. The aviation community recognizes the need for special clothing for their special environment. The afloat environment, where you are the fire department, is also much different from that ashore. It may be appropriate to provide an additional clothing allowance if additional expensive clothing items are required for service afloat, or otherwise provide specialized clothing.
Thinking about uniforms, I would like to point out a feature I like, on the French Navy’s work uniform. That is the bright stripe that appears to be reflective on the upper part of the uniform. In the case of a man over board or an abandon ship, this could mean the difference between being found or missed. It is also probably more visible in a smoke filled compartment.