U.S. Navy Throws Out Blue Camouflage

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran, in NWU Type III green uniform, addresses enlisted crew of the carrier Nimitz

By MarEx 2016-08-05 20:47:37

The U.S. Navy announced on Friday that its widely disliked blue camouflage uniform – known as aquaflage or "blueberries" – will be phased out of service beginning October 1. 

Officials have long acknowledged that the design is less than fit for purpose. "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," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus in 2013.

At the introduction of the blue-pattern uniform in 2008, the Navy suggested it would have several advantages: it would hide stains; it resists snags; its color pattern reflected tradition. Some joked that as it included common shipboard colors, it would not look different after paint spatters and smudges. 

The uniform had several disadvantages, though. Sailors complained that it was too heavy, and the Navy itself found that the nylon/cotton non-iron blend was flammable and could melt into a “sticky molten material."

Instead, the service will substitute its already-popular Navy Working Uniform Type III, a green camouflage outfit which is already an available option. The Type III will fully take over in 2019, and while it isn't flame-resistant either, it is lighter and more comfortable. 

"Our force really loves the Type III’s," said Vice Adm. Robert P. Burke, speaking to Navy Times. "Fleet feedback is that it’s lighter, it breathes good in hot weather climate, it’s got the right accessories for cold weather climates — and it just wears better."

The move promises to reduce the size of each sailor's seabag, cutting millions in procurement and logistics costs. 

The service will also be working on a new flame-resistant uniform for shipboard and shoreside operational support use, including a new two-piece set. Wear tests are planned for next year.