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Navy Bids Goodbye to “Blueberry” Uniform

Aquaflage is so 2010

A newly promoted group of petty officers stand in formation in Yokosuka, Japan. The blue working uniforms they are wearing will start to be phased out this October. (U.S. Navy (Flickr))
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If the word “aquaflage” calls to mind beehive hairdos or really strong hoses, you must not be in the Navy. Also known as “blueberries,” the blue and gray digital camouflage pattern has been a required part of the U.S. Navy’s working uniform since 2010. But it’s time to bid the less-than-blissful blueberry goodbye—Navy officials just announced that their working uniforms are getting a green camo makeover.

As of October 1, Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke writes in a uniform policy update, the Navy’s shore working uniform will begin to transition to the so-called NWU Type III uniform in a green-and-tan camouflage pattern. The three-phase transition will be complete by October 2019 and will also include other changes like an updated logo on sweatshirts and pants.

In a release about the change, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus says that when he travels around the world, sailors want to discuss uniforms with him. “They want uniforms that are comfortable, lightweight, breathable...and they want fewer of them,” he adds. “We have heard the feedback and we are acting on it.”

NWU Type III
The Navy Working Uniform Type III will replace the blue camouflage uniforms that have been required since 2010. (U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Julia A. Casper/Released)

And not a moment too soon: The blueberry, as it has been derisively called since the uniform’s debut, could be one of the most hated military uniforms of all time. Announced in 2008, the uniform was designed to replace the dungarees and blue shirts that had long been the Navy working uniform.

But not everyone was thrilled. Not only were the uniforms mocked as Smurf-like, but they were hot and uncomfortable. In 2013, a burn test revealed that they were anything but flame resistant. DuffelBlog, the military’s version of The Onion, helps explain the controversy about the design by pointing out that it did a great job disguising service members who fell into the water—not exactly the job description for people who serve in the Navy.

Now that the age of the blueberry is coming to an end, Sailors can look forward to working uniforms that are more on par with their counterparts in other branches of the Armed Forces. And though the announcement has been met with glee by some (the Navy Times’ Mark D. Faram calls it “the military’s most pointless uniform”), it’s bad news for entities like the San Diego Padres, who had previously announced that they planned to switch to blueberry-style jerseys during some games.

Baseball aside, you can get a glimpse of the uniform that will soon be standard (and brush up on your knowledge of other Naval garb) by checking out the U.S. Navy’s interactive uniform app.

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