The U.S. Navy announced last week that it will transition from the Navy Working Uniform (NWU) Type I to the NWU Type III as the primary shore working uniform over the next three years, beginning Oct. 1, 2016, according to a news release.
The NWU Type I uniforms were variously known as “aquaflage” or “blueberries,” and widely disliked.
The groundbreaking NWU Type I employed a blue and gray version of the digital Marine Pattern or MARPAT camouflage, and was intended for both shore and shipboard wear by both enlisted and officers. The camouflage colors were based on the most widely used paint colors employed by the Navy, the reasoning being that the camouflage would hide paint stains as well as the usual stains acquired by working uniforms during the normal course of duty.
The NWU Type I uniforms were variously known as “aquaflage” or “blueberries,” and widely disliked. In addition to being derided as only being useful for camouflaging sailors fallen overboard, they were considered heavy and uncomfortable. Worse, the 50/50 nylon/cotton material used in the uniforms was found to be highly flammable, melting or burning when exposed to flames. Shipboard use was therefore restricted to in-port periods, eliminating one of the primary reasons for the development of the camouflage pattern in the first place.
The NWU Type III employs a digital woodland camouflage scheme, and was developed for special operations and expeditionary warfare personnel. It presents a simple solution that is already in use and readily available. The Navy issued an improved flame-resistant coverall for shipboard use beginning in 2014, and is set to test a new two-piece shipboard working uniform beginning next year.
“As the CNO and I travel to see sailors deployed around the world, one of the issues they consistently want to talk about are uniforms,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “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.”