HMS Lancaster will sail in newest navy uniform for 70 years

Sailors on board HMS Lancaster will wear the Royal Navy’s first new uniform in 70 years when their ship leaves for a nine-month Atlantic patrol on Saturday.

Replacing the Action Working Dress known as No4s – the traditional lighter-blue shirt and trousers worn by sailors at sea – it is the first major change to naval dress since the Second World War.

HMS Lancaster’s sailors are the first ship to wear the clothing which is now dark blue and more modern, comfortable and fire retardant.

It can be adapted to different climates, will offer more protection from flash fires and is designed to address corporate image with more Royal Navy branding, notably a large White Ensign on the left shoulder.

We are extremely proud and genuinely delighted to be the first ship to wear the Royal Navy’s new uniform.

Commander Peter Laughton RN

Badges denoting rank will also be worn at the front rather than on the shoulders.

The Commanding Officer of HMS Lancaster, Commander Peter Laughton, said: “We are extremely proud and genuinely delighted to be the first ship to wear the Royal Navy’s new uniform.

It is a really practical, smart and modern uniform, and the extra branding allows us to much better represent our Service.

This will most certainly be the case during our current deployment where we are due to transit in excess of 30,000 nautical miles and visit up to eighteen different countries.”

The official name for the uniform is the Royal Navy Personal Clothing System (RNPCS), highlighting that it now comes in multiple layers to help meet the needs of the Navy’s global deployments.

Personnel in the Gulf and the South Atlantic can wear the same uniform and adapt it to suit their requirements.

The first layer is the T-shirt, and personnel can put the shirt over the top or add the thermal layer in between the two to suit colder climates.

The trousers are lighter weight, but also fire retardant, and have slanted pockets for ease of access. Belt loops are smaller and the trousers have a side adjustment to reduce snagging as sailors move around the ship.

The uniform has been trialled extensively in a number of ships and submarines including HMS Daring, HMS Westminster and HMS Talent, with the crews commenting that the new uniform is modern, professional and comfortable.

Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, who has just left his post as the Second Sea Lord and who oversaw the changes, said the input of sailors was vital.

“It is time for the individuals in the Navy to change the way they are presented. We have always been professional, but we did look a bit out of date,” he said.

“But the most important thing is that it is comfortable to wear in the extremes of climate in which the Royal Navy operates – from the Antarctic to the Gulf.

“We have trialled it extensively and the feedback has been mostly positive, resulting in producing something which our sailors want to wear.”

Around 22,000 sets of the new uniform will initially be issued to operational and sea-going ships before being rolled out across the rest of the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary throughout 2015.

HMS Lancaster sails from Portsmouth on Saturday 21 March for a nine-month Atlantic patrol where she will take over from HMS Dragon.

The ship expects to cover in excess of 30,000 nautical miles and visit up to eighteen different countries.

The deployment, which takes the ship across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, will build on the UK’s strong ties with its allies and continue the UK’s commitment to the region.

This is the third Portsmouth-based ship to leave on operations this month, following HMS Duncan and HMS Richmond.

LA(PHOT) Des Wade