WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus announced today plans to evaluate and redesign elements of the female service dress uniform for both officers and enlisted beginning no later than May 2014.
SECNAV approved a proposal by Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Bill Moran to redesign the Service Dress Blue (SDB) uniform worn by female Sailors E1-E6 and to redesign the female combination cover for E7 and above.
"These changes ensure greater uniformity in our service and ceremonial dress, but more importantly, they send a clear signal that we are one in dress, one in standard and one in team. As you look out across a group of Sailors, you ought to see, not female and male Sailors, but Sailors," said Mabus.
"I asked the Chief of Naval Personnel to present me a plan that balanced the importance for uniformity with cost and functionality - and he did just that. It's now over to his team to do the necessary testing and get these uniforms rolled out to the Fleet as soon practical."
Tradition meets fit
The new E1-E6 service dress blue female uniform blends uniformity and tradition. The jumper and Dixie cup, tailored for female form and functionality, will match the recently redesigned (but not yet issued) male jumper — closely resembling the iconic image of the "Lone Sailor."
Following completion of a fit evaluation on the female jumper style uniform and dixie cup, there will be a combined fleet introduction of the new female uniform and the previously approved male redesigned SDB uniform.
The female combination cover for E-7 and above will be redesigned to more closely resemble the male version, but will fit a woman's head in size and proportion. It was clear in the feedback from the recent test that simply issuing a male cover to females did not result in satisfactory fit or appearance. Similarly, lessons learned from the fit evaluation will be used to inform the design of the female cover.
New uniform items will be evaluated for fit, comfort and durability. Fleet introduction will begin following approval of the final design and completion of the manufacturing process. The final timeline and costs of the new items will be determined following the wear test.
"We are moving out with our plan to test these new uniforms items this spring," said Moran. "After a thorough testing, elements of these uniforms will begin to be introduced."
Designed to fit women
Feedback from a May 2013 uniform survey was instrumental in the development of these changes. More than 1,000 female officers and enlisted participated in the internal study which looked at level of satisfaction when wearing the male combination cover, Dixie Cup and the winter jumper style uniform.
"Loud and clear we heard their feedback — 'don't simply put us in men's uniforms,'" said Moran. "We are taking the needed time to develop and test uniforms that more closely resemble their male shipmates, but are designed to fit female Sailors."
Uniform officials say that further changes to female uniforms are likely, as the uniform board reviews and deliberates additional ways to improve uniformity and functionality.
For more information on uniforms and uniform policy, visit the Navy Uniform Matters website.