NORFOLK, Va. — The Navy said Friday that it is reviewing whether flame-resistant clothing should be made available for every sailor at sea after a test revealed the camouflage working uniforms most of them wear are flammable.
In October, a test conducted by the Navy Clothing Textile Research Facility in Natick, Mass., showed the 50/50 cotton-nylon blend uniforms worn by most sailors aboard ships will burn and melt until they’re completely consumed. In contrast, Army and Marine combat uniforms are designed to be self-extinguishing and are made of a mix including flame-resistant rayon.
The test results didn’t surprise Navy leaders. The Navy removed the requirement for all sailors to wear flame-resistant uniforms at sea in 1996, although sailors in specific jobs such as engine room personnel, fire fighters and those in flight-related duties are still issued flame-resistant clothing.
But some sailors and their families were still upset about the test results and questioned why everyone isn’t issued a flame-resistant uniform aboard a ship, where fires are especially dangerous.