Monday, March 14, 2005

Navy Tests a New Look

Sailors aboard the San Diego-based amphibious assault ship USS Tarawa (LHA-1) are taking an active role in one of the Navy’s latest changes, helping to test new concept uniforms for the time when Sailors step out of dungarees and into the future of Navy uniforms.
The Navy’s Task Force Uniform initiative is designed to test four new concept uniforms that will be superior to current working uniforms in both style and function.
“This new uniform initiative is great, we’re all very excited to be one of those on the short list of ships and commands participating,” said Tarawa’s Command Master Chief, CMDCM Michael Schanche. “As the Navy’s mission changes and expands, so do the tools we use to accomplish the mission.”
Tarawa is one of only 21 commands Navy-wide selected to test these new battle dress utility style blue and gray uniforms. The new uniforms are designed to eventually take the place of utilities, wash khaki, coveralls, woodland green, aviation green, winter working blue and tropical uniforms. Features on the new uniform include blue and gray woodland versus digital pattern camouflage, performance t-shirt versus cotton undershirt, and 8-point versus round top cover.
“I think one of the best things about replacing all these uniforms with one versatile one is that it will lighten your typical Sailor’s sea bag load significantly,” Schanche said. “Something important to note is that these uniforms are going to replace only the working uniforms, not the most traditional and most recognized Navy dress uniforms.”
In all, 60 Tarawa personnel are wearing the new uniforms and participants are already praising them.
“I think they’re more comfortable, more durable, and instills more pride in their wearer,” said Operation Specialist 2nd Class Dale Church. “It’s a lot easier to get into battle dress with these.”
“I like all the pockets, the comfort factor is the biggest thing I think,” said Airman Lisa Godbehere. “I work on the flight deck all day and in these, I find I’m a lot less sweaty by the end of the day.”
The new uniform initiative comes after a Navy wide survey last year that determined most Sailors were unhappy with both the number of, and the quality of current uniforms.
“Utilities and coveralls are just too hard to maintain, I work in Deck Department, so all it takes is one gob of haze gray paint on my uniform and it’s ruined,” said Tarawa crewmember Seaman James Gardner. “I can’t wait to get one of these new uniforms.”
While the final decision on the new uniform won’t be made until January of next year, the consensus is that Sailors are definitely ready for a change.
“I’ve had a lot of people ask about these, so I’m sure there are a lot of Sailors who can’t wait to get one of these new uniforms,” said Schanche. “However, we’re doing this gradually. We want the uniform the Navy finally chooses to be the best one.”

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