Post by Jay Post by Bob G
Sailors do have to do things from time to time besides paint, yah
know. If your exposure to the Navy was as a one tour guy, with only
one or two duty assignments, I can understand that you might not
Hey I was only stating what was said in an article last year about these
uniform trials. Hell From what I've observed lately they are
contracting/outsourcing most big painting jobs.
Understood, Jay. By no means was I intending to slam yah or anything.
I was only trying to present a different point of view.
Paint stains do present an issue. But only one. And in many years of
experience I've had, while it was an issue of concern, it wasn't the
Jay, since you've revealed you are or were Navy. You'll understand
what say. I was a senior chief. (A mustang for a short while but
elected not to make it permanent as my wife became disabled in an
accident. And needed me at home. I'd have had to obligate for
additional years, and agree to another several years aboard ship to
keep the commission. Wasn't in the cards. I'd given the service
plenty, now it was time for me to stand by my wife and be there for
In any event, I spent plenty of years in, most of it assigned to ...
variously ... patrol boats, or blue water combat ships. My last
several years at sea was on an aircraft carrier, where I had 137 men
working directly for me, and occassionally ... for short periods ...
was the senior enlisted for an engineering department of around 600.
More often than paint stains. Issue was oil, grease, and other dirt
stains. That could not be cleaned out completely. Or geting some
chemical on uniform that caused blotching of color. Etc.
This was definitely an issue. As it looked shitty. And often caused
a man to have to shitcan otherwise good condition clothing. I saw it
often among the Snipes. Airdales. Boatswains. Etc. Wet paint, one
... most of the time ... can see and avoid, or prepare for by wearing
old crappy clothes or coveralls. But in just day to day life and the
work of sailors. Impossible to always avoid oil, grease, accidental
spill of some chemical yah have to use which bleaches color out on a
spot of your uniform, and so forth. And even when no permanent stains
were incurred, during course of a shipboard work day, throw in GQ
drills and such, one often picked up a lot of dirt and such and it
often stood out like a sore thumb.
Pride and appearance do count. And is one of the reasons that during
some ship's evolutions certain actions were taken. ie Pulling into
port with civilian observers. Many ships commonly put word out,
quietly, that the working crew members who must necessarily be getting
dirty doing the necessary tasks of cleaning up the ship, handling
lines, manning anchors, working the engine rooms, etc make every
attempt to stay out of sight, while others in clean, good looking
outfits man the rails. And put on a show. Of course it's normal and
expected that a working man doing work get dirty. Only common sense.
But who ever said silly civilians had common sense? Many don't.
BTDT and watched em turn up noses, heard em make snide remarks, and so
forth upon seeing a man doing his job. Which was unavoidably dirty.
Of course, they were being utterly ridiculous. But, OTOH, if one is
trying to impress the taxpayer, or dignitaries at a foreign port, or
whatever the case may be, one does what one can. And tries to keep
the best looking in view and get the guys actually doing the work out
of sight as much as possible.
A camo type pattern to the working uniform might well help alleviate
and moderate some of those issues. As a stain, temporary or permanent
would not stand out so much, as compared to a solid color background.
Add, that in recent years the Army and Marines Corps in experimenting
with various materials, combinations thereof as in blends or layering,
new weaving and fabric treatments, and so forth have made some good
advances in clothing that's suitable for wider ranges of temperature
extremes ... hot and cold ..., more protective in wet conditions and
faster drying after getting wet. More abrasion and tear resistant.
Better colorfastness. So on and so forth. And the Navy might well
like to take advantage of such. To come up with more durable
uniforms, more protective uniforms. And fewer times when one must
resort to carrying special issue items for some given climate or duty
ie Drawing from own experience. I was in Nam on river patrol boats.
Which had many assignments of differing sorts. Depended on precisely
the unit and location you ended up at, needs of the Navy and
situation, time one was there, and so forth. One my first assignment
we were issued standard fatigues. But they were in short supply, hard
to come by, and often right size was not available. Later, as unit I
was with got involved in type of ops that necessitated it, we shifted
to cammies. Other units did not. Didn't have real need. Depended on
where you where and what you were doing. Then there were the oastal
patrol craft, harbor patrol. Many, many utility boats and their crews.
Harbor and yard service craft, shallow water mine sweeps. Picket and
guard boats around docks and piers. U-boats and landing craft doing
general work hauling stuff from here to there. Add the Seabees,
who're also known as the Fighting Seabees for very good reason. EOD,
SEALs, and at the time UDT were still in service. There were Navy
advanced bases, airfields for Navy aircraft. And Naval Support
Facilities, some very large, which provided supplies and repair
services. Throw in Corpsmen, and Chaplains assigned to Marine Corps
units. Naval Aviation Liason officers out in the fields. Some Intel
specialists. So on and so forth.
It's not as if we, the Navy, formed any large bulk of the overall
forces in inland Nam. But over the duration of that war, 10's of
thousands of sailors served ashore. Some as front line as yah can
get. Sometimes even beyond the so-called front lines. Other back at
some land base. But there were times when even those were ducking
bullets, mortar rounds, and the like. And taking places at defensive
postions. Doing perimeter patrols, manning watch stations, machine gun
That it was not your experience, as a single termer, or even if a
career man, that you never personally needed an alternative to
dungarees. Is just a small part of overall bigger picture. That you
may have never had to face personal combat, nor even knew others who
had to, is also not a major factor. Nor a matter of shame, either.
All jobs in the service are important, or we'd not have them.
Likewise, many a man has joined the Army or Marine Corps and never
actually had to face personal combat. Even if an infantryman. No
shame in that, either.
But even if not assigned to a duty where one expects personal combat,
yah never know what the future brings. ie My father-in-law. Who
joined in WW2. Wanted to be a cook. Became a cook. Got assigned to
a Seabee outfit in a fat, lazy, out of the way place. Just so
happened the name of that place was Midway Island. Look it up
sometime. He lost a LOT of very close friends. And found himself one
day doing what he'd never thought he'd have to do. Manning a .50
caliber and having a duel with attacking enemy planes.
Or yah could end up, or have ended up like some other fellows I know.
After Nam wound down, I did the cross deck and rethread thing. Went
from being an engineman on patrol boats to a machinest mate on blue
water ships. One one such I volunteered for and was selected to be on
the ship's boarding and landing party. Skipper figured I was a good
choice given my background. And in fact I became the Party Leader.
Others on the party got into it for various reasons. ie A Boatswain,
who wasn't given a choce. Deck officer assigned him because he was
one of our best coxswains. Then there was this young electrician. Who
got in for the fun and games. It was peacetime. And he didn't
imagine there was a chance in the world he'd ever have to do for real
what he was practicing. And he liked the practice sessions. Running
around on small boat, playing John Wayne. And he got to have a lot of
free target practice with small arms. I don't blame him, it was
sometimes good fun.
Chuckle. Then came this particular day. When a bunch of maniacs and
morons in this one country let lose the dogs. And a corrupt and
ineffective government was fighting an equally corrupt and lying bunch
who called themselves communists ... or socialists ... all the same.
Liars and those who thought they knew better and more than others what
was good for them, and were perfectly willing to deceive, lie, cheat,
or murder ... for the good of the people, of course. Very self
righteous types, convinced of their own superior moral cause. Add
maybe a couple dozen other factions or groups motivated by everything
from simple greed and thievery to racial hate. And things were a
mess. Things had been tense in that place for a while. And now
really erupted. Many Europeans and Americans caught trapped in that
place. Some got out, but some were holed up and blocked off. Word
going out from every embassy, "Get OUT, if you can."
In any event, a group of these folks were caught and holed up. Unable
to find a way out. At a port city, in a building with some sort of
relation to the US embassy. Some trade mission and whatever type
place. Sponsored by and with some ties to the Embassy and State
Department. Main Embassy either had some Marines there of got some
there. But there weren't many. Enough to keep local thugs backed off
and thinking about it. But not nearly enough to hold off any serious
attack. I'm not aware of all the details. I was way too far down the
food chain for such things.
As it happened, at the moment the SHTF, my ship and a couple others
were close. As luck would have it, no amphibs with Marines or
aircraft carriers, etc. They were coming but were still some time
away. In the meantime a plan was hatched. We small boys had boats
and landing parties. We were to pull in close, launch boats, dock at
and secure a section of piers. Marines with evacuees, when they got
the word figured they had a good chance of getting them to us. Locals
were so busy shooting each other, and hacking each other up with
knives and machetes, that none of em were making any concerted effort
to "get" the Marines or those with them. Just talking pot shots of
opportunity at em. But jarheads figured it was just a matter of time
before one group or the other got the upper hand over others, and got
the bright idea of storming their holdout. So best estimate of best
chances, don't wait. Whatever we could provide by way of boats and
personnel NOW, was the best option. Seize piers, hold, Marines would
do a do or die breakout and rush evacuees to us. We were to load em up
and ditti mao like crazy.
And so young coxswain and young electrician ended up with me at the
piers of a dirty, stinking hell hole of a place. (along with others)
Wondering just how in the world did they come to being there.
Boatswain was relatively calm. A good ol boy from some small town in
the south somewheres (I forget), the type it was harder than hell to
shake up. And he never seemed much excited about anything.
Electrician was shaking in his boots. And while we waited it was with
him I chatted a bit. Trying to calm him down while he wondered just
how in the world did he end up in this mess. He'd just wanted to go
to sea, see some of the world, and get laid lots. And learn how to be
an electrician. I reminded him he'd volunteered for the Navy, and for
this duty (prior to his figuring he'd actually have to get shot at
some day) for a lark. Well, now it was time to pay the Piper. So
LOL ... he did fine. Shaking and all. Not as if this turned into
some grand battle to brag about. We were taking occassional sniping
shots of opportunity. But locals were so busy going at each other.
Hardly had time for us. Electrician was scared and shaking. But did
his duty. Hell, I was scared and shaking. But this was not the first
time for me. By far. Fear is just fear. And made no difference to
me. I was gonna do what needed done. Fear or not. I was just not
gonna show it. For the benefit of those with me. No need for them to
know what I knew. That this could turn ugly in a hurry. Mr Murphy
likes to show up at the worst of times.
We only had one serious incident. Where a group of this or that party
to the fighting, got a temporary upper hand over the others, and
decided to give it a try at us. It didn't work so well for em. Fact
was, none of these groups were very organized, nor knew much about
real battle and tactics. (Fortunately) And were pretty lousy shots.
Spray and pray seemed to be their motto. My guys held their positions
and did as trainned. Scared or not. That attack was short lived, and
had few survivors on the other side.
Jarheads had a much tougher time of it. But did their jobs
admireably. And were up to the task. They showed up with the
evacuees and we wasted no time loading em up and shipping em off.
Then got outta there ourselves.
My point simply being that just because you saw no need in your
experience, does not mean one does not exist. Or might. The Navy
gets involved in a lot of incidents which either never makes a front
page, or gets only a brief mention. I forget URL or name, but the
Navy does maintain a web site which lists "incidents" they get
involved in besides the big front page news stuff. From rescues at
sea, to disaster response, encounters with pirates, to rescue of
civilians from places of civil war, to whatever. Most of them, most
average people never know about. Various reasons. Including short
memories. Reporters are often unconcerned with events in 3rd world
countries unless they happen to be there or it's a slow news time. Or
event is a big one. Sometimes these things make local news, Hong Kong
or Singapore papers, etc. Never spread beyond that. And at least
back when I was on active duty. The Navy had the reputation of being
one of the most closed mouth of services. Annually releasing the
fewest press releases of any. <Shrug>
I don't think much has changed, or at least not much. I know we had
far more folks inside Afghanistan and Iraq than the press ever seemed
to be aware of. Probably because in part, reporters tend to be dumber
than a box of rocks. And often have no clue what they're seeing or
looking at. Unless someone explains it to em in big print and simple
words. And likely, the Navy hasn't changed all that much. They've
never been big on press releases or inviting reporters along for the
ride. Chuckle, I know when I was on active duty I had an occassion
from time to time to deal with reporters. Mostly I just wanted to be
rid of em, and to get em out of the way. I had no pleasant memories
of reporters from earlier years. And usually offered no comment. Or
as brief a one as possible, then told guy to get lost. Go find
someone who cared, it sure wasn't me. I was pretty sure that no
matter what I said, they'd get it wrong, misquote and misinterpret,
spin and twist the truth. And that was the good ones. Worst ones
would out and out fabricate. Or dream up some wildassed explaination
of the events, or causes behind them, that was fitting of some of the
wildest tin-foil hat wearing, conspiracy theorists yah find on these
Anyway, back to subject. A working uniform that could also be
reasonably serviceable in a combat situation is not a terribly bad
idea. Most will never need it for that purpose. Hopefully. But if
there is need. It's already there, part of your seabag and normal
wear. And supply inventory needed to be maintained is reduced. Etc.
All of these, and probably a few more I've not mentioned, are in the
total picture and consideration.
ie Things not mentioned. Savings in expenses. How much something
costs is very much dependent upon quantity ordered and used. If one
working uniform can acceptably replace 4 or 5 used variously by
different parts of the Navy and Marine Corps, less expense in stocking
and maintaining storage and distribution, and less cost per outfit.
(Tho final price might go up if items are in fact better, and thus
worth the added cost.)
Add, possibly simplified laundering facilities. I was no ship's
serviceman. But know something about that part of their job, As I was
responsible for maintenace and repair of equipment in a ship's
laundry, among other things. The fewer different types of items and
materials; the fewer different, segregated loads, special settings or
cycles. the fewer special handling instructions, the fewer special
detergeant requirements. Something many never think of. Unless they
were a ship's serviceman, or one of the snipes who helped em keep
Now, whether or not the cammo patterning things works out, or is
worthwhile. Who knows? I don't think it's a horrible idea. But it's
not my decision to make, nor do I know all the considerations to be
taken into account.
Post by Jay
My seabag was plenty heavy
but I had one standard working uniform. Dungarees. Yes I stood quarterdeck
watch in whites and blues but the normal uniform was dungarees.
As it's been for many years, for many sailors. But not all.
Post by Jay
The only time we got coveralls as when I was divisional supply petty
officer,and I got some for my division.
Good man. The Navy certainly makes provisions for coveralls. But
they do not however dictate exactly how a division officer or
department head spends his money. Some have more concern for their
men, some less. Same with tools. Some ensure men have what they need
to work most effectively and efficiently. Others scrimp on this. Pat
selves on back. And either reports savings and want suitable credit
for this. Or spends the money on his preferred crap and toys.
ie At one unit where I was assigned. We had this ass. Never
hesitated a second to order fancy letterhead paper. Or have fancier
typewriters. Or newer and fancier furniture. And other
miscellanious, frivolous crap. And had his pet projects upon which he
spared no expense. But ensure adequate replacement tools, masks,
safety gear, etc? Nope. In those cases a stingy bastard.
<Shrug> So one day his orders of brand new furniture somehow got lost.
Damned me if I know how. :-)
Gad, he was furious and demanding answers. And getting none that
In the meantime my guys were busy following my orders. To hurry the
heck up and engrave new tools with work center codes, and scruff em up
a mite to make em look used. Other things, which he'd known we didn't
have, got hidden in a void. Til time of real need. Which was
sometime later and he never connected the dots on that one. "Hey,
Chief. Where did your guys get the hydraulic puller?", "Oh, that,
sir? Hell we stole it off some airdales on another ship. Remember
when we were inport across from the Forest Fire about 6 months ago?
Well, we borrowed a few things." As it was no skin off his chin, or
at least he thought so, he let the matter drop.
Yah just gotta be quicker witted than the average desk jockey officer,
bureaucrat, politician, or reporter. Which isn't hard. Most of em
can't see the forest for the trees if they ran into a tree and broke
Post by Jay
Yes if I knew painting was on the
plan of the day I wore the dungarees that where spotted previousely. Even as
Ships Self Defense Force we where NEVER issued camos or any form of
Never in the past, does not mean never in the future. The world
changes, and so must the Navy. Times change, guy. During some
periods, decades ... whole careers .... blue water Navy and big ships
are the front line. Other times, it's coastal patrols and river
boats. Then maybe the day of the amphib. Etc. In the curretn
scenario, as it's shaping up. The Navy is finding more need to enter
close in waters, maybe to put people ashore. And to provide own,
increased security for ships in ports or harbors. Meaning possible
increased men on the ground at docks and piers, and at gates, and in
small patrol boats armed to the teeth patrolled around moored or
Times change, and we need to change with em.
It's like with the Air Force. Which during much of Viet Nam relied
heavily on Army and Marines to protect their bases, do perimeter
patrols, provide reaction forces, and so forth. But then they were
told, enough was enough. Army and Marines had their own missions.
Air Force needed to provide own self defense and fast reaction combat
teams. That's how they came about establishing the Air Force Air Base
Defense school down in San Antonio. With facilities at Medina and
Lackland, and over on Camp Bullis. Where select Air Force Security
Police types got additional training over previous times. In infantry
tactics, hostile area patrol outside of bases, tactics of a fast
response reactionary force (to counter attack), airborne insertion via
helo, use of bigger and heavier weapons than they'd needed to know the
use of in the past. That was in the ... hmmm.... early 70's? I
think. I was there in '76 and it'd not been in existance for more
than a few years I think. Navy sent me. I'd gotten out for a couple.
Tried my hand as a cop in San Antonio. Decided it was not me. Went
back on active duty. Volunteered for an assignment that necessitated
Navy wanting me to get a refresher on small arms and some tactics.
Since I was right there, they put me thru that school. Then I was off
to go play advisor. At an old trade. Small patrol boats. They
needed some volunteers with current or past experience. No big
stories to tell. I was to, in fact, stay the heck outta trouble and
combat if at all possible. Except in shear self defense. And I did,
mostly. Except for one incident. A fellow advisor and I were being
good. Having a cold one and a civilian meal in a local place. When
all hell broke lose. Local rebels burst in, not after us. I don't
know that they were even aware of us or who we were. We'd just picked
wrong place to be. Local miliatry big wig just so happened to also be
at this place. And was upstairs boinking his favorite hooker. They
were after him. But shooting anybody they saw. Or trying to.
ROFLMAO !!! Buddy and I were scrambling like crazy, hitting deck,
crawling, running. Looking for exit ... stage left. Or right. Or any
old way as long as it was an exit. We were armed. Kinda. 38's
against AK47's suck, tho. (We were allowed personal self defense
weapons). Now maybe in the movies the hero pulls out his revolver and
beats the heavily armed bad guys who also have much superior numbers.
In real life? We ran like hell. Made our own friggin exit. Did shoot
at, and I think ... hit ... this one guy out back who was waiting for
whomever might come out. But wasn't sticking around to be sure. The
place was right along the river and we dove in and played disappearing
River Rat. Came out of the river downstream. Ducked into this little
back alley bar. Sat and finally got to enjoy a meal and several beers
while listening to all the hubbub down the street. Screw it, wasn't
our war. The locals, fishermen, dock workers, and the like, were
sortta used to all this. While alarmed ... not a lot. Were doing the
sensible thing. Deciding to stay in the bar a little longer, til the
shooting was over, at least. Then would maybe go take a peek to see
who won. As it turned out, guy the rebels tried to bushwhack won.
Him and his body guards. They were no slouches. A bunch of tough
nuts to crack. I thought this was good, that he won. Actually a
pretty nice guy. His folks liked him. But while he could be nice, he
could kick some ass when pissed off.
Anyway, far as I know, the Navy may be planning, or have already
started to much beef up manpower and skills of Navy self defense
forces. Wouldn't surprise me in the least. Especially if future
plans call for ships anchored at, moored at, etc in some of those
places in the world where all the ruckus is going on nowadays. What
was the name of that ship ... the Cole? Or was it the Roberts? That
got bombed by the suicide boat. Her guard was down and not what it
should have been. But that's what yah get for trusting the folks they
did who said they'd handle all the security. Yeah ... sure.
Post by Jay
Yes the Airdales had flight suits,their ground personnel had their
flight deck uniforms,engineering personnel had their green coveralls , and
everyone had dungarees(except officer/senior elisted), but will this new
uniform be able to replace all of the above?????
Don't know. Maybe. Doubt if they'll replace flight suits. But could
well replace the others.
Post by Jay
For crying out loud they
are issueing polyester (shrink wrap)shirts,even you stated the folly of
nylon/synthetics unless its a version of nomex .
Synthetics is a rather generic term. And not all synthetics have the
And no one if talking "fire proof". Flame retardant or flame
resistant is the more accurate term. Yah want something that does not
easily melt and laminate your ass. That can maybe handle a brief fire
ball. And may singe, and smolder. But is either unlikely to simply
burst into flames, or if it does, once fireball has expended itself,
flames in clothing are relatively easy to extinguish. Pure nomex
clothing has it's problems and issues, too. And is not necessarily
the best "all around" cloth. They're looking for best "all around"
stuff. Specific, special materials for main first response fire
fighters, etc are a whole different subject.
I was hit with a fireball once. Shipboard acident. I was wearing old
fashioned coveralls at the time. With long sleeved shrrt. Expanding
fireball hit me, and beyond. But did not last that long. Of course,
after, we had problem of roaring fire from spweing oil but that was a
different subject. It was away from me a distance. My clothing
singed, and I lost a lot of hair. But burns weren't horrible, and
didn't cover much of me. Point being I wasn't laminated or running
around in flames. Was able to man my station and assist in the damage
control, along with others. Unfortunately a few guys had been closer.
And were hit not only by fireball, but by spewing oil. Wasn't a
damned thing we could do for em. And I'm not sure anything would've
helped. Would even a full modern firefighting outfit save your ass if
you're also coated in fuel oil? I don't know.
Post by Jay
The urban camos for camo
purpose are BS in my book, there are uniform grey/navy blue/swat black
fatigues that would do more to camoflage a sailor and maintain some
seperation from other services uiniforms.
And such choices might be the ones selected. This is just a, "Hey,
let's try it and get feed back from the real sailors." kind of thing.
Which has been done before. Testing ... means just that.
Post by Jay
So lighten a seabag I think not. Change the crappy dungaree uniform,I'll
go with that. Try to take urban cammies ashore as legit camo ,I dont think
You have very valid points. I never intended to indicate otherwise.
except I think the paint thing was taking too strong hold of your
initial thoughts. But the rest of your thoughts are good ones.