One of the defining characteristics of warriors in this age of the world is their camouflage garb. The brave men and women of the Army, Marines, and even the Air Force all have combat fatigues which make use of broken stippled patterns of drab colors meant to conceal them from the eyes of enemy combatants…but what about the Navy? Sailors tend to be mercilessly prone to being spotted—since they are generally located on huge floating metal arrays belching out smoke above the flat blue seas. Ferrebeekeeper has written about attempts to camouflage ships, but what about the men aboard these vessels?
Perhaps the absence of camouflage—as much a part of a soldier’s identity as a sword was in the past–is why the US Navy decided to try blue digital camouflage work clothes (aka aquaflage). However that experiment is now coming to an end. The navy is discontinuing the production of the chunky blue-black-gray suits as of October 1st (although the final phase-out of service will be three years from now).
There were a lot of problems with these suits. The tunics and trousers feature a pattern which resembled a ghastly mélange of bluefish chunks and hematite. And the purpose was unclear too. Was this for sailors who were trying to hide in the ocean itself…or in a bad nineties music video?
The outcry against the uniforms was not solely aesthetic. Apparently these awful things were hot and were prone to melting and catching on fire (although I guess those are aesthetic concerns too—who wants to be seen wearing melted sardines and asphalt or running around in a flaming sailor suit?)
The uniforms came into service in the not-very-great year of 2008. Maybe they were part of the same sort of wooly thinking which caused the great recession or, more-likely, the result of an unsavory deal between a vendor and a politician in charge of appropriations. The suits which are formally known as “Navy Working Uniform Type I” will be replaced by green camo known as “Navy Working Uniform Type III” (apparently Type II uniforms were a sort of invisible khaki color). This will solve the sailors’ fashion woes, but now everybody is going to think that they are army guys. Maybe the Navy needs to give up on camouflaged sailors and return to some stylish 18th century horizontal stripes!
If they want to be inconspicuous, they can just stop playing bagpipes….