Arguably one of the most iconic pieces of uniform in the entirety of the United States Military, the peacoat, famously worn by the Navy was announced in August 2016 to be phased out by 2020 for a black synthetic parka that was less expensive. How could something so iconic be discarded for its cheap cousin?
What is saving the iconic piece of uniform? Reported first by USNI News’ Sam LaGrone, Congress wants to “preserve America’s domestic textile industrial base.” In 2015, $48 million was given to Massachusetts based, Sterlingwear of Boston, to produce the wool coats through 2020 when the new coat was originally planned to take over.
The Providence Journal reported the manufacturers were claiming upwards of 300 jobs could be lost if the change were to be made. A collateral damage David Fredella, Sterlingwear VP, and COO told the East Boston Free-Times Press, “We believe the Navy was unaware of the collateral damage of their decision to phase out the wool peacoat by replacing it with a 100 percent synthetic parka. It all not only result in the closing of manufacturing facilities and lost jobs. But it will also impact he ability of the woolen trade industry to satisfy other military wool clothing requirements.”
According to a draft of the fiscal 2018 Defense Bill concern is expressed for the policy change. The House Armed Services Committee draft also asks for a full explanation of the peacoat change. “The committee is concerned this decision was made without considering upgrades or alternatives to the traditional peacoat or the impact to the nation’s domestic textile industrial base.”
Reported by Navy Times’ Geoff Ziezulewicz, “The House defense bill directs the Secretary of the Navy to provide a briefing by Oct. 1 explaining why the Navy removed the peacoat from mandatory seabag requirements and what alternatives were considered regarding peacoat improvements and upgrades. It also calls for any cost evaluations of the cold-weather parka compared to the peacoat and all-weather coat, as well as an assessment of how changes will impact the domestic textile industry.”
This should be interesting considering the Secretary of the Navy position is being held by an acting SECNAV. Richard Spencer was nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate Armed Services Committee. The nomination is to go to full Senate however a date has not been announced. Spencer has not made any statements into his opinion on the Navy’s decision to phase out the wool peacoat.
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