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U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations You Don't Want to Forget

Policy of US Navy uniform regulations

The purpose of the US Navy Uniform Regulations is to provide descriptions of all autho­rized U.S. Navy uniforms and components, and to provide guidance for all Navy activities prescribing uniform wear in order to present a uniform image worldwide. It is issued by direction of the Chief of Naval Operations and carries the force of a general order. Any procedures or components, regarding uniforms or grooming, not discussed in these regulations are prohibited.

Applicability of US Navy uniform regulations

The provisions of the US Navy uniform regulations apply to all personnel who are authorized to wear the U.S. Navy uniform. U.S. Navy Uniform Regulation NAVPERS 15665J is issued for information and guidance, and requires compliance when wearing naval uniforms. The US Navy uniform regulations are the sole source for dictating how to correctly wear U.S. Navy uniforms and uniform components. It supersedes US Navy uniform regulation, NAVPERS 15665I dated August 25, 1995, and all other existing directives on navy uniforms. After January 1, 1996, Navy Uniform Regulations are distributed quarterly via BUPERS Directives and will contain revisions and updates to the 1995 manual. 

Changes to the US Navy uniform regulations

Sailors may make uniform or uniform regulation change recommendations via their chain of command to the Navy Uniform Matters Office. Recommendations are to be submitted in letter format with subject line REQUEST FOR UNIFORM BOARD POLICY CHANGE. Recommendations should reflect navy-wide application with an eye towards standardization and uniform policy reduction. Uniform change proposals are to be endorsed via cover letter by each endorsing echelon. The final endorsement should include proposal Subject Matter Expert contact information. Uniform proposals which are not endorsed favorably at any level will not be accepted by the office. Proposals favorably endorsed shall be submitted to Navy Uniform Matters Office, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (N13X), 701 S. Courthouse Road, Arlington, VA 22204-2164.  More information is available in the US Navy uniform regulations.

Enforcement of the US Navy uniform regulations

The US Navy uniform regulations define the composition of authorized uniforms. Navy uniforms are distinctive visual evidence of the authority and responsibility vested in their wearer by the United States. The prescribing authority determines when and where the uniforms in the manual are appropriate for wear. Uniforms and components shall be worn as described in these US Navy uniform regulations. Navy personnel must present a proud and professional military appearance that will reflect positively on the individual, the Navy and the United States. While in uniform, it is inappropriate and detracts from a professional military appearance for personnel to have their hands in their pockets. Additionally, when walking from point to point while in uniform, it is inappropriate and detracts from a professional military appearance for personnel to be smoking or using tobacco products, or to be eating and/or drinking. All personnel shall comply with these regulations and be available to teach others the correct wear of navy uniforms. Exemplary military appearance should be the norm for uniformed personnel. These US Navy uniform regulations describe all authorized U.S. Navy uniforms and the proper manner for their wear.

US Navy uniform regulations concerning headgear

The cap/hat is an integral part of the uniform. Uniform headgear is not required to be worn when ships are at sea outside harbor limits, except on specific watches or on ceremonial occasions specified by the commanding officer or higher authority. Uniform headgear is required in port, unless safety prohibits wear, i.e., foreign object damage (FOD).

Outdoors, personnel remain covered at all times unless ordered to uncover, or during religious services not associated with a military ceremony. Personnel remain covered during invocations or other religious military ceremonies such as changes of command, ships’ commissioning and launchings, and military burials, etc. The chaplain conducting the religious ceremony will guide participants following the customs of his church.

Indoors, personnel shall remain uncovered at all times unless directed otherwise by higher authority for a special situation/event. Those service members in a duty status and wearing side arms or a pistol belt may only remove headgear indoors when entering dining, medical or FOD hazard areas or where religious services are being conducted.

A military cover may be removed when entering, departing, or while riding or driving on and off base in a privately owned vehicle (POV) or bicycle. As a military courtesy, covers should be worn by the driver of a POV when entering a military installation if required to return a salute. When riding a bicycle on or off base, wearing a safety helmet may be required by local safety instruction. 

Male and female sailors undergoing medically prescribed health treatment or care that results in a drastic loss of hair, or the scalp becomes too sensitive to wear wigs/hair pieces, military covers, protective head gear or equipment are authorized to wear fabric head coverings (solid colors of black, khaki/tan, navy blue or white). Medically prescribed head coverings will match the color of the military cover prescribed for wear with the uniform being worn. The need to wear fabric head coverings must be medically documented and prescribed by appropriate military healthcare providers.

US Navy uniform regulations and shipboard restrictions

Sailors will not wear 100 percent polyester uniforms (certified navy twill) in any operating fire room. Wear only flame-retardant clothing when engaged in hot work such as welding or brazing, and when exposed to open flame, such as during boiler light‑off operations, or spark producing work such as grinding.
Females will not wear skirts or dress shoes (pumps/heels) aboard ship. The wearing of skirts or dress shoes (pumps/heels) is not prescribed or optional aboard ship. These items may be stored aboard ship optionally at the discretion of the service member and worn when immediately departing or returning to the ship.

Sailors cannot wear poromeric (also known as corfam) shoes aboard ship for normal daily operations. Poromeric shoes may be worn when immediately departing or returning to the ship, or when specifically authorized by the commanding officer.

Sailors may not wear V-neck/sleeveless undershirts aboard ship for normal daily operations. V-neck/sleeveless undershirts may be worn when immediately departing or returning to the ship, or when specifically authorized by the commanding officer.

Sailors will not wear acrylic V-neck sweater aboard ship as an outer garment during daily operations. Acrylic V-neck sweater may be worn when immediately departing or returning to the ship, or when specifically authorized by the commanding officer.

For men, earrings are not authorized while in uniform or in civilian attire when in a duty status. Earrings may be worn with civilian clothing while in a leave or liberty status on or off military installation and when travelling in a government vehicle, or while participating in any organized military recreational activities ashore unless otherwise prohibited by prescribing authority.

For the latest US Navy uniform regulations updates, visit this page.