Royal Navy sailors get new uniform at the start of £78m clothing project

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet Storyline: Top Stories

Royal Navy sailors are receiving a new uniform at the start of a £78m revamp of their clothing.

More than a thousand personnel on operations in hot climates now wear the new working uniform – designed to be cooler and more practical in the sweltering conditions they face. 

The rest of the Royal Navy will be issued the uniform – known as Rig22 – by the end of 2023, but improvements will continually be made based on feedback from sailors as part of a ten-year £78m project. 

The aim is to supply clothing that can withstand the rigours of life at sea and, at the same time, be more practical and better fitting than the uniform it replaces.
“We understand just how important having the right kit is,” said uniform project leader Georgina Davies.

“We really appreciate the complexities and emotional attachments people have to the uniform and that’s why the uniform improvement project is something I feel very passionately about.

“The team want to deliver the best uniform that we can and the project is the way we hope to achieve this. 

“This is a continuously evolving project and we will no longer allow for any part of the uniform to stand still for decades without being reviewed.

“Uniform is not simple and getting it right is challenging and complex. But we are committed, and we will work hard to ensure that the money is spent where it really matters.”

A further £40m will go on replacing other elements, such as boots and belts, while a new Gore-Tex foul weather jacket and thermal layer will arrive this autumn. 

“We have carried out thorough research and testing and this is the best uniform that industry can offer to meet our requirements,” said Warrant Officer 1st Class Lee ‘George’ Reeves. 

“This is a major investment in our people. The new uniform is lightweight, more breathable, will fit more people better, and has lots of good features designed specifically for our sailors.”

The new clothing is made from flame-resistant Nomex – also used in the suits of F1 drivers, which allows the body to breathe.

Feedback from more than 7,000 personnel has been incorporated into the final design, with three different fabrics tested extensively by 130 sailors on warships in the Gulf at the height of summer, where temperatures can reach 55ºC.

More than a Uniform | A Short Film

The Royal Navy has launched a short feature video about what it means to wear the Royal Navy’s recognisable blue uniform.

As the rollout of the new clothing begins, navy videographers spent time with sailors from HMS Montrose on operations in the Gulf.

The video is designed to show how diverse the Royal Navy is, with people from various backgrounds and beliefs, who together in the blue rig, become one formidable team.

What is the new uniform like?

Sailors from HMS Montrose were among the first to test the new uniform and feed back to the team developing it. 

The Type 23 frigate is deployed in the Gulf long-term, keeping sea lanes open and tackling drug smugglers.

It means the new clothing has been tested in some of the most rigorous conditions the Royal Navy faces.

Warrant Officer First Class Simon ‘Bagsy’ Baker said: “It is nice to wear straight out of the packet and feels light and airy. When compared with PCS (the old working uniform) it looks smarter.

“In the hot climate of the Gulf, it performs head and shoulders above PCS making any firefighting and emergency duties far more comfortable.

“Above all, the feedback received is being listened to and actioned to ensure that Rig22 is the best uniform yet.”

Engineering Technician Robert Forster, who is a Marine Engineer, said: “Although I don’t work in Rig 22 all of the time, I like the new rig, the lighter material is cooler and easier to maintain. 

“The uniform is smart and looks very presentable. There are issues with sizing that need to be addressed particularly with the shirt being too tight under the arms.

“I like the rank slides being on the shoulders, as it makes it easier to identify ranks. I would like to see a Velcro patch on the arm to identify branches also.”

The project team have already responded to feedback and made some amendments to the uniform, including:

Extra sizes of trousers and shirts.

Repositioning of buttons for better collar fit.

A loop on the shirt for hanging. 

Increased pleat size in the shirt for better movement under the arms. 

Velcro mounted White (for Royal Navy) or Blue (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) Ensign.

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