Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic Public Affairs
17 April 2015
NORFOLK, Va. – Flame Resistant Variant (FRV) coveralls will be issued to the crews of all Navy submarines in 2015, beginning with USS Montpelier (SSN 765), which was selected to wear test the uniform prior to distribution across the submarine force.
The submarine community is the last to rollout FRV coveralls across its fleet due to the need for lint testing to ensure the coveralls would not inhibit the ships’ ventilation systems. The aviation and surface communities began issuing FRV coveralls in January 2014 with nearly all ships having successfully completed the transition from the older poly-wool style coveralls to the new, safer version by October 2014.
Commander, Submarine Force Supply Financial Advisory 15-01 directs afloat units to procure and distribute FRV coveralls to shipboard personnel at no cost to the crew. It provides an implementation timeline and provides reporting requirements for ships and their superior commands.
FRV coveralls will be issued and managed as organizational clothing to all personnel on submarines to mitigate the risk of fire-related injuries. The new coveralls are expected to maintain performance properties, durability and appearance for typical deployments of six to nine months, with an optimal wear life of 18-24 months. Like other organizational clothing, the FRV coveralls will be replaced by each ship over time, based on normal wear and tear.
The FRV coverall is made from 100% cotton fabric treated with a flame retardant chemically bonded into the fibers of the fabric. FRVs passed all flame and flash-fire testing requirements and the flame resistant properties did not degrade with wear or laundering for the serviceable life of the coverall. They use the same design pattern as the existing utility coveralls Sailors have in their uniform sea bag.
Senior Chief Machinist’s Mate (SS) Joshua Newcome, Engineering Department Master Chief onboard USS Montpelier (SSN 765), said he appreciates the Navy’s efforts to continually improve safety.
“I am really happy the Navy puts this much emphasis into safety and are always looking for ways to improve it,” said Newcome. “Having done this for as long as I have, I have seen my fair share of fires onboard, and the implications that a major fire had on a submarine. Every little bit of safety or margin of improvements that are added, I will gladly take.”
Navigation Electronics Technician Seaman David Nein said the gratitude for safety extends outside of service members.
“I know that everyone back home, our family and friends, appreciate the Navy looking into how we can make things safer,” said Nein. “They are happy when they hear about us doing things to try and make our lives and workplace safer.”
Because the FRV coveralls are not a uniform, they are not authorized for use ashore. The current poly/cotton utility coverall will no longer be authorized for wear underway once the crew is issued the FRV coverall.
Newcome encouraged Sailors to remember the importance of the wear testing process while the transition takes place.
“Keep an open mind and be positive about the change,” said Newcome. “It improves your degree of safety, and while we all struggle with change, in this case, change is good.”
To build esprit de corps, each unit’s commanding officer may authorize the wear of the embossed leather name tag (same as worn on the V-neck sweater) or develop a fabric-embroidered, unit-specific name tag similar to those worn on green Nomex flight jackets. Name tags will be Velcro-backed and worn ¼” centered above the left breast pocket. Unit-designed name tags must be similar in size and shape to the V-neck sweater name tag.
The FRV coverall will be worn with a black cotton web belt for E1-E6 personnel and a khaki cotton web belt for chief petty officers and officers. Unit patches or the U.S. flag will not be attached to the FRV to avoid any potential degradation of the coverall’s fire retardant properties. Ships should not stencil or serialize any part of the coveralls’ outer fabric, but can
stencil names on the inner part of the coverall for identification purposes. No other modifications are authorized.
Submarines have been directed to issue four FRV coveralls and one name tag to each crew member no later than Dec. 31, 2015. Each boat will also maintain a reserve supply to facilitate replacement of damaged and unserviceable FRV coveralls. The exact transition date for each submarine is to be determined by the commanding officer based on the ship’s operational schedule.