The Navy's most mocked camouflage uniform will soon be a thing of the past, the service announced today.
The Navy Working Uniform Type I, blue camouflage utilities commonly referred to as "blueberries," will be replaced everywhere in the service by the forest-green NWU Type III camouflage utilities developed by Naval Special Warfare Command as a tactical uniform.
According to an announcement today by Naval Personnel Command, sailors will have the option of wearing either the NWU Type I or III beginning Oct. 1 of this year, and will be required to wear the NWU Type III as the primary working uniform ashore and in port by Oct. 1, 2019.
"As [Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson] and I travel to see sailors deployed around the world, one of the issues they consistently want to talk about are uniforms," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a statement. "They want uniforms that are comfortable, lightweight, breathable ... and they want fewer of them. We have heard the feedback and we are acting on it. As a direct result of Sailors' input, effective Oct. 1, we will transition from the NWU Type I to the NWU Type III as our primary shore working uniform."
Apart from the common criticism that the uniforms, introduced in 2009, added more weight to sailors' seabags, the pattern has been mocked as a pointless use of camouflage.
"The Navy 'blueberries' – I don't know what the name is, that's what sailors call them – the great camouflage it gives is if you fall overboard," Mabus reportedly said in 2013, acknowledging the controversy.
Officials said the NWU Type III, now used by riverines and other expeditionary forces, would be issued to new recruits beginning Oct. 1, 2017.
The NWU Type III. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Julia A. Casper).
Sailors will be able to keep wearing their black boots with the NWU type III, but Navy expeditionary forces, deployed or stateside, will be allowed to wear boots in coyote brown or desert tan at the discretion of their unit commanding officer, officials said.
Navy officials also announced today a series of other uniform decisions handed down by the service. By 2020, all sailors will transition to the Cold Weather Parka as service and service dress uniform, with other outerwear including the Navy All Weather Coat, Pea Coat and Reefer coat becoming optional.
Beginning immediately, female chiefs will be able to wear the signature men's khaki pants, without belt and buckle, with khaki over-blouse. The Navy is still conducting wear tests of women's khaki pants for the chief's uniform, and officials said they were expected to be available for purchase at the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018.
Navy sweats are getting a new logo: "NAVY" in silver reflective lettering, which is already featured on the Navy PT shirt and shorts.
And popular "Don't Tread on Me" and reverse U.S. flag patches are now authorized, at the discretion of the commander, on NWU Type II and III uniforms, officials said.
To cover the costs of uniform changes, the enlisted clothing replacement allowance will be adjusted. Commissioned officers, who receive only a one-time career uniform stipend, will not see an adjustment, officials said.