COs to have authority to allow ball caps with NWUs
At the conclusion of battle stations-the final test in boot camp-new Sailors remove their recruit ball cap, having earned the right to don a new cover: a ball cap emblazoned with the word 'Navy.'
When these young Sailors join the Fleet, their generic Navy ball cap is set aside for a command ball cap, identifying them as a proud member of their new command.
So during all hands calls when senior leaders candidly ask Sailors what changes they want, many ask for more opportunity to wear their command ball caps, specifically the option to wear it with the Navy Working Uniform (NWU).
Now it's happening.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and senior leadership took that request to heart, and on July 11 the Office of the Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP) announced they are changing the uniform regulations to give individual commands the ability authorize command ball caps with the NWU Type I, II and III.
"A lot of Sailors look at command ball caps as a source of command pride and espirit de corps," said Fleet Master Chief April Beldo, senior enlisted advisor to CNP. "This is something the Fleet asked us for, and we believe this is something the commands should be able to decide for themselves. So all we're doing is opening up that option to the command triads, the CO, XO and CMC."
Under the new policy, commanding officers, working with regional commanders, have the option to authorize command ball caps for Sailors in NWUs, anywhere that uniform could normally be worn, including transiting to and from work.
"It's not our intent to tell COs how to do this," said Vice Adm. Bill Moran, CNP. "We're leaving it up to COs to use their best judgment. That's what they're there to do and they are the ones best suited to make those decisions for their command."
The NAVADMIN outlining the official policy will be released in the next few weeks, and the new policy is scheduled to go into effect Sept. 1, giving commands some lead time to prepare.
Under current policy, ball caps can only be worn with coveralls, flight suits and the physical training uniform.
This change will not eliminate the eight-point NWU cover, which will remain part of the standard sea bag.
In an informal poll, Sailors aboard the forward-deployed USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) shared their opinions, which diverged both in support of command ball caps and the eight-point cover.
"I like the idea of changing to the ball caps," said Master Chief Machinist's Mate Milton McDonald. "They are much easier to maintain. The eight-point covers do not always have the best fit, and it would be much easier to correct a Sailor who is wearing an adjustable ball cap."
"I think we should keep the traditional eight-point covers," said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Clyde Scott. "Sailors look so much sharper and squared away in those covers."
In the new policy, individual commands will make the decision on whether their Sailors wear command ball caps, eight-point covers or some combination based on local requirements.