The U.S. Navy is having some 1,200 sailors try out prototypes of the new NWU (Navy Working Uniform.) The test will begin this Winter. Aside from many new features in the NWU, the idea is for this one new uniform to take the place of many existing work ensembles (utilities, wash khaki, coveralls, woodland green, aviation green, winter working blue and tropical working uniform). That in itself is a good idea, but the NWU incorporates a number of other welcome changes. One is the concept of camouflage. But why would a sailor on a ship need to hide himself from view. Mainly because ships are often in port, and sometimes there are hostile people in that port area. The color pattern of the NWU (navy blue, deck gray, haze gray and black) is designed to make it more difficult for some hostile local ashore to get a good shot at a sailor on the deck of a navy ship.
Also, many sailors also work ashore, often in combat zones, where the camo pattern still works in built up areas. But more immediately, the camo pattern hides the grease, and other, stains that sailors tend to get on their uniforms. The stains become part of the camouflage pattern, and are one less thing for your chief (Chief Petty Officer, every sailors works for one) to worry about. The camo pattern also makes the uniform still look presentable, even though it is wrinkled. The uniform is made of wash-and-wear material, and is lighter, and more rugged, than fabric currently used. The normal wear life of the NWU is designed to be up to 18 months, compared to six months for the current working uniforms.
Prototypes will vary somewhat, and sailors will be polled as to their preference for things like; woodland versus digital camouflage pattern, blue versus gray as the uniforms predominant color, tapered blouse (work shirt) versus standard-style blouse, rounded versus pointed collar, performance (expensive, but keeps you cooler) T-shirt versus cotton undershirt, pleated versus non-pleated trousers, elastic versus adjustable waistband, button versus zipper trousers, no-polish suede versus polished leather boots, 8-point versus round top cover, pocket locations and design.
While some sailors will miss the traditional blue jeans and work shirt, most sailors have long been complaining about the work uniform. So this move by the navy is much appreciated by the sailors.