Open Mic

December 2008


What’s on your mind today?

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Naval Institute

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • Brine

    Does anyone understand the reasoning behind the disparity in policy behind the new navy working uniform and prior uniforms or the other arm forces? I’m not looking to kibitz, just to understand what otherwise will be percieved as being ashamed of our sailors, or our uniforms, and or another unneeded requirment. I want to believe there is some thought behend this, but I haven’t found it yet.

  • unhappy

    Its because we “take care of our sailors.” The leadership asks a group of E-3s who have not been in the navy long enough to understand tradition and history if they think their uniforms are cool enough. They say no. Do you want to look like the army? Sure. And there you go…the Navy will soon look like a bad sci-fi movie, dressed in a camouflage that almost guarantees that if they go overboard no SAR pilot is going to be able to see them in the water. So we’ve taken care of the Sailors, I just hope we give them more practice swimming.

  • Byron

    Unhappy, while I agree that the uniforms have major suckage, I think you’re overstating the situation with your example. Aviators have things like dye packs, lights, and of course, radios. Even the flight suits they wear today aren’t all that visible.

    Yes, the uniforms suck. Yes, whoever thought of this is a complete idiot, and never once asked the folks on the deckplates what they thought.

    My biggest complaint is that the Navy is STILL using polyester fabrics. That’s got to be the dumbest thing you can use for a uniform about a warship. I’m just your average yardbird, and even I know you always wear 100% cotton in case you have a fire. Cotton burns to an ash, easily washed away. Polyester burns to something like plastic, and has to be picked off, bit by bit. The new uniforms? Yeah, polyester…easy to care for, hell if you’re caught in a fire. And how many places aboard a ship can you catch fire? Damn near everywhere.

  • Brine

    My question was referring to the recent navadmin message saying that the only authorized stops to and from work in the working uniform are emergencies such as vehicle breakdowns and trips to the emergency room. It is a small issue for a nation at war, but this is yet another problem for our troops. The significantly below standards quality of the uniform is a secondary issue, but while I am optimistic about the wearing regulations getting changed if people start asking the hard questions to the right people, the poor choices in the uniform have already been made and I doubt we are adaptable enough to fix that.

  • I wished I had more time to write about my ideas to help our Navy be Great. Work, family, community…hard to fit it all in.

    Keep up the great discussions.


  • Byron

    Yeah, Brine, thats what you call the compound interest on stupid.

  • SeniorD

    In re: uniforms – face it, we’re not all built like the imagined Bosun in the storied Recruiting Ad (tall and lean). The Cracker Jack uniforms (which I never got to wear) were intended for minimal storage in the cramped spaces allocated for enlisted personnel. The new(er) garb is similar to the ‘Officer/CPO’ like dreck we wore in the Carter Years.

    Utilities – who in their right mind wants to wear camo themed utilities on a ship? I’ve heard the excuse the camo pattern hides oil stains better? Really? Why not purchase a ton of the forensic coveralls used by the Brits? Get all the oil you want on those things then toss ’em. Of course, substances such as hydraulic oil permeates everything so we’re still in need of something.

    Camo uniforms in Man Overboard situations – aviators get all sorts of emergency gear but the average sailor gets squat. This takes my mind back to 1976 and a little incident between the USS Can Opener and USS Belknap. Late at night the only way we found sailors in the (very cold) water was by the blinking of the cheap flashlights attached to kapok life jackets.

    In short – Naval Aviators want a return to the Green and Khaki uniforms to set themselves apart from other specialties. The Navy in general is enamored with the digital camo patterns used by the Marines (and Army) and by the way cool sci-fi uniforms designed by Hollywood. There is no sense of tradition when it comes to uniforms nor is there any real consensus when it comes to real working clothes.

    My suggestion? Go back to the cotton-based Blue Coveralls for everyone as ship board uniforms. Pay working enlisted a decent allowance to permit acquisition of more than a couple sets (take the allowance from Officers and CPOs). Get rid of the need for Summer/Winter variants and go with on standard color – Navy Blue in heavy and light weight fabric. Use colored turtlenecks to distinguish Deck, Engineering, Aviation, Medical specialties. Officers/CPOs get the traditional suit coats while Enlisted get waist length jackets.

    Of course, who will listen to the common sense of a Beached Chief?

  • Byron

    SecNav and CNO, if they had any sense 😉

    BTW, blogmaster, why not add a “who am I?” for posters? And was anyone brave enough to click on “Soldiers Fun.com”

  • admin

    Yeah – I didn’t approve the SoldiersFun.com, but one of our bloggers did – I’ve removed it for now. Nor was I brave enough to click on it – bloggers, tell me, how do I avoid the spam without compormising an identity with a ‘who am I’ post? Obstensibly, this person could answer that they are a soldier, etc…

  • Byron

    Besides blocking the IP? Seriously, ask folks like the CDR, SJS, Galrahn who’ve had blogs up and running for a while now and given that they aren’t getting a lot of spam must have some way to block most of it. Then again, you’re not using Blogspot, WordPress, or some of the other blog portals, either.

    Of course, I’m not but an ignorant savage making his way through the caves, torch in hand, and trying to decipher the pictures on the wall 😉

  • The challenge is to guard the independent nature of this forum while avoiding self-promoting yahoos…and I did go to that site…enough said about that.

    We are using WordPress – self hosted.

  • bad Behavior, Akismet and Defensio are your friends (free and designed to work w/WP). Even then there is the occasional bot that sneaks under the radar. So like the gardener, we sow, reap and in between, dispassionately weed…

  • Oh…and as for what’s on my mind today…, domestic military coups and ASBM’s, China and sea control from the shore, which will be expounded upon in the new year here and elsewhere.
    – SJS

  • Byron

    Told you those are some pretty smart guys 😉

  • sid

    Dovetailing off the SJS’s ruminations…Years ago, I was regaled with seastories from these days.

    One salient point I still remember was the concern that the Soviets intended to deliver massive amounts of megatonnage via ballistic means (so as to solve any targeting ambiguity) and counter the threat.

    From what I remember, the tactical plan was to return from any strike to a survivable location and hang with the big dawgs for the The Duration

  • PK

    one morning during the “Zumwalt era” right after he allowed enlisted to leave the ship and go home in “working clothes” (which was a real sore point with a lot of the old timers). a group of us grimy old sandcrabs were waiting on the fantail of the good ship Towers for instruction and direction. the skipper was conducting officers call on the off side of the ship.

    and what do we see, but a second class gunners mate comming aboard in a squared away set of blues with seabag and large yellow personel envelope. the instant he set his bag on the deck (it stood upright on its own accord) we gathered around and complimented him on the condition of his uniform, read the number of medals from his fruit salad, checked the spitshine of his shoes, examined the dragons sewed in his cuffs, noted how the stars and piping on his jumper were so white they were actually slightly blue, commented on the style of his white hat……. all of the time watching the skippers neck turning a deep deep RED. he didn’t say anything just kept talking to his officers but we quit at what we considered to be just short of a full blown gasket blow.

    you gotta take the laughs where you can get them.


  • Byron

    What did you expect, C, he was a gunners mate!

  • PK



  • Spade

    “Utilities – who in their right mind wants to wear camo themed utilities on a ship? I’ve heard the excuse the camo pattern hides oil stains better? Really? Why not purchase a ton of the forensic coveralls used by the Brits? Get all the oil you want on those things then toss ‘em. Of course, substances such as hydraulic oil permeates everything so we’re still in need of something.”

    Wouldn’t an easier solution be to point at a working uniform and say, “This is a WORKING uniform. You don’t wear it out, and you don’t wear it in an office. You wear it if you’re inside an engine, or painting a ship etc. and only then. And we don’t give a damn what it looks like, just don’t show up for inspection or office things in it.”

    After all, most civilians have a small collection of old shirts and pants they wear while painting, doing yard work, etc. We just don’t wear them to the office.

    Never figured out why this whole deal had to be so damn complex.

    It would also be nice if such an attitude got rid of the whole “I work in an air conditioned office and thus need to be in camo utilities while you civilians are in a suit and tie” thing, but that mostly seems to be a Army/USAF issue to me.

  • Jay

    Concur with all the comments re: uniform. If it were up to me, we would wear prisoner orange coveralls with embedded floatation devices & local GPS, that also, if you went overboard, salt water would activate LED lights that would transform you into a christmas tree.

    Digital Cammies (or whatever name you want) — Well, LOTS of reasons the patterns have been changing in our other branches. Since the Marines are a part of the Navy, I think we should wear the Marine digital uniform, with Navy insignia (shouldn’t be too tough to get a production line started that doesn’t embed the EGA in the cloth).

    Also — since Army allows non-emergency “pit stops” in uniform (as far as I know) and they wear theirs in office environments…Marines wear them in office environments (but no pit stops…I think), I don’t think it will be too long after everyone has them that pit stops are allowed.

    I don’t see the diff between someone commuting in a bus/train (& waiting at a bus/train station), and someone getting out at a gas station off base to pump gas & grab a coffee/food.

    We’ll see…

  • PK

    its kind of tangled up in “uniform of the day”. it was a tradition that after work the crafts cleaned up and wore “undress”.

    however some rates could not work in “undress” without destroying them.

    that lead to hassles with the master at arms if the offending person had to work after supper as they would not be allowed to eat in the working clothes by the mess deck master at arms.

    the duty po of your particular sho/office could make arrangements with a telephone call (on tenders the machine shop people never ate supper in uniform of the day).

    keeping track of what particular items of clothing to wear for what particular ceremony or work detail was a real pain in the fundiment.


  • thanks for making the first open mic on this blog a success

  • sid

    And on another note…

    This is a long overdue proposition that badly needs quick implementation.

    NASA as a “peaceful purposes only” agency is a Cold War relic that has little relevance in a time when competitors (if not potnetial adversaries) are openly pursuing integrated military-civilian space efforts.

    There is a maritime dominance angle to all of this…

    Whoever controls space, therefore, will control the world’s oceans. Whoever controls the oceans will control the patterns of global commerce. Whoever controls the patterns of global commerce will be the wealthiest power in the world. Whoever is the wealthiest power in the world will be able to control space.

    Seems the Chinese have read the book.