ARLINGTON, Va. — The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is answering a Sailor’s request for delivery of new flight deck clothing that could significantly boost personnel safety on aircraft carriers across the Navy.
Sponsored by both ONR’s TechSolutions rapid-response program and Naval Air Systems Command, new flame-resistant jerseys and trousers could be worn by Navy flight deck crews across the fleet as early as 2014. The evaluation of the prototypes began in December on USS Stennis (CVN 74); prototypes will also be tested on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and a third carrier yet to be selected.
The obligation to ably equip Sailors is a guiding principle in the Chief of Naval Operations’ Sailing Directions.
“The safety of our Sailors and Marines is Job One,” said Master Chief Charles Ziervogel, who heads the ONR TechSolutions program. “We must always be looking for ways to evolve and improve our Sailors’ equipment and gear.”
The rapid response and delivery program accepts recommendations and suggestions from Navy and Marine Corps personnel on ways to improve mission effectiveness by applying new and improved technology capabilities. Typical turn-around time for a working prototype is approximately 12-18 months.
The quick-drying, flame-resistant uniform is designed as an upgrade to today’s flight deck clothing, and is more comfortable for personnel.
“It’s like putting on your grandfather’s jersey and then putting on Under Armour — there’s no comparison,” said Force Master Chief Gary McClure at Naval Air Forces Atlantic, the Sailor who submitted the request for an updated flight deck uniform. “The positive feedback has been overwhelming.”
The upgraded apparel is made of moisture-wicking, fire-resistant fabric and intended to replace the all-cotton flight deck jerseys issued to personnel today. Prototype jerseys in five different fabrics are being evaluated by Sailors on deployment through July of this year.
The new trousers are also manufactured with fire-resistant capabilities built into the fabric. Current flight deck trousers have to be treated with fire-retardants before they are issued, making trousers heavy and uncomfortable, and the treatments wear off as they are laundered.
The new program requirements call for the enhanced garments to last not less than one sea deployment under daily flight deck wear over six months — with the objective being 12 months durability, to include a sea cruise and work-up period.
“The longer durability could provide a real potential for cost savings,” said Ziervogel. “Feedback from Sailors is that current flight deck uniforms need to be replaced several times during each cruise.”
At the end of the evaluation period, all the fabrics deemed suitable will be forwarded to the Defense Logistics Agency for possible procurement.
About the Office of Naval Research
The Department of the Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps’ technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.