Bring Back the Dungarees

The most useless camouflage in the world is on the way out.  The Navy has determined that, in addition to being highly flammable, the NWU Type 1 uniforms (commonly called Blueberries) are hot, heavy and are particularly good at camouflaging sailors who have fallen overboard.

“I think that there are a lot of folks who wouldn’t be sad, I guess, if Navy working uniform Type I went away,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said in to Navy Times.

Adm. Richardson is absolutely correct. The first time I saw the Navy cammies was in a restaurant outside of Naval Weapons Station Charleston and it took all I had to keep from laughing. The idea of camouflaging one small person on a huge target like a carrier or destroyer is laughable. It would tend to complicate man-overboard operations, though.

What uniform will replace the blueberries is still under discussion. A more traditional green camouflage while on shore duty is an option, as are blue overalls, but I believe that bringing back the dungaree working uniform – bell bottom blue jeans and lighter blue chambray shirts – would be the best option.

DungareesThe dungaree uniform resembles the iconic ‘crackerjack’ uniform that is still the dress uniform for enlisted ranks – lending it an air of tradition lacking with battle-dress style uniforms or overalls. The dungaree uniform is casual and comfortable and you can tell in a glance who does the work.

Dungarees look good with either ball caps or Dixie cups (the traditional white sailor hat that I believe they still wear). The only problem with dungarees is that they show dirt and paint, but so does almost every other piece of uniform kit that you can name.

Sometimes the best way to move forward is to take a step back. Put the chiefs and officers in khakis, keep the lower ranked enlisted guys in dungarees. What could be simpler?

However, knowing the Navy, we will probably see three new uniforms being rolled out. They will all lack any traditional elements and will make sailors look like their brethren from other services. It is unfortunate, but the Navy has been on a kick about ridding itself of many of its traditional elements for years.

Whatever decision the Navy makes, there will be sailors who don’t like it. Of course, running a branch of the armed forces based on public opinion is an exercise in stupidity – which sounds like how the Navy has been running for the last few years.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

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Matt Towns

Matt is a former military journalist who spent 10 years in the US Navy. He served in various posts during his career, including a couple of deployments on the USS Valley Forge (CG-50). After leaving the Navy, he worked in management for a number of years before opening his own businesses. He ran those businesses until 2012 when he chose to leave the retail industry and return to writing. Matt currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to the US Patriot blog and other websites about political affairs, military activities and sailing.
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29 thoughts on “Bring Back the Dungarees

  1. I spent 23 odd years in dungarees. Today’s
    modern” Navy is certainly not what I remember. I am 69 now, and if they bring back the dungarees, I want to re-enlist!

  2. When I wore them I loved them i didn’t mind the bell bottoms but many other sailors did and I loved the dungs themselves but hated the pockets so I think we should go back to the world war 2 ones with stockpile legs to retain the advantages of bell bottoms and the huge pockets

      1. The white hats were re-introduced starting in 1978 and completely reissued by ’83. After about ’81 you could get away with wearing a white hat with dungarees again. In crew photos from the ‘nineties sailors wore both types of hat with the blue-jeans.

  3. Yes, the maritime cameo uniform is pointless and silly. When last worn in ’99 sailors wore both white hats and ball caps with the seafarer’s brand bell bottomed blue jeans and chambray work shirts. Seafarer’s were invented at the Brooklyn navy yard by a tailor in 1899. I wore them in the late ‘seventies on two submarines, the John Marshall & the Trepang.

    1. My dad wore the Dungrarees and the white hat in the Navy and had the old school white sea bag in the early 1950s when he was in the korean war thats what looks Navy and what the Navy needs to look like some things dont need to change.

  4. Bring back dungarees with the white hat, cotton Dress Whites, cotton Tropical White long, Undress Blues and loose that ridiculous blue camo working uniform and that black and khaki thing they wear and while we are at it go back to Navy Blue instead of black. The Navy has bee screwing up uniforms since 1973.

    1. I miss the salt and pepper work uniform of the early 80s. The combination cap was a little over the top for non-CPOs but I always liked the short sleeved white shirts with black trousers.

  5. Loved wearing my dungarees, sometimes not practical though. Could not wear them off base in public. Nice way to get written up. I guess with the “blueberries” you are safe to go off base without harassment from a Chief seeing you in them.

  6. Nothing is cooler than a properly rolled Dixie cup as long as it was still clean. I hated the bell bottoms of the dungarees but am sickened by the blueberries or the idea of a paper pusher wearing tactical green camo .. The new navy has lost its way and forgot its traditions.

  7. My husband joined in 98…..can retire now in Feb. I have seen so many uniforms it is crazy! Now he is in class 3 digi camis opposed to the blueberry uniform….he has done it all disagrees, working blue, working whites….blah…then peanut butter….holy shit…he is a chief now so don’t have to worry about all the BS

  8. Yep..MY Navy wore dungarees..cammies were for SEALS, Seabees ,EOD and MAs.

    The blue cammies are a JOKE..sorry for our brothers that had to endure such BS..

  9. I wore the dungarees on active duty and now wear the blueberries as a Reservist. I hated the dungarees back then but would bring them back in a heartbeat, along with the working whites and Johnny Cash. They were practical, lightweight, you could tell an officer or Chief from a worker bee all the way from the end of the pier, and for 35 bucks at the Exchange, you could buy a new set plus iron on patch and be ready for inspection in five minutes.

    The blueberries are hot, uncomfortable, have useless pockets and a million flaps and other protrusions that seem to snag every bolt head and handwheel, it’s next to impossible to distinguish ranks till you’re practically on top of each other, the wear regs are unclear and no one seems to know or follow them, and we all look like lumpy piles of laundry. About the only advantage is they hide dirt better and you can wear them out in town, but not for travel like other branches, so what’s the point? The all-season black and tan that replaced the working whites and blues is boiling hot in the summer and cold in the winter and makes us look like wannabe Marines.

    I have not worn the Type 3 camo that is supposed to replace it yet, supposedly it’s lighter in weight, but the ranks are even harder to determine at a distance so I expect to see a lot more Third Class Petty Officers getting saluted.

    I suppose my objection to the fashion parade is the Clinton-era civilian corporate mindset behind it, the trend toward a universal uniform for all branches, regardless of the whether or not it’s necessary, wanted or useful. I just bet this started back in the 90s with some 60s protester-type turned lawyer turned DoD flunky fretting about having to remember all those different ranks and patches, which led to an inspiration from the Bright Idea Fairy.

    This concludes my rant.

  10. I was in 50 to 54 on AKA12 from 51 to 54.We had 4 outfits dungarees & chambray shirts,dress blues,undress blues,& whites.The chambray shirts had your name stenciled on the front but no ratings.We seldom had to wear anything other than dungarees on board.Gator navy was more work than show.
    The new outfits look uncomfortable as hell.

  11. When I was in navy 1982-2003 the dungarees were worn by navy E-1 thru E-6 personnel as a working uniform while inport tied to pier. inmates at just about any county jail also wore very similar dungarees minus the crow/Chevron(s)

  12. I was in the Navy from 1984-2008.
    I preferred the Traditional Bell Bottom Dungarees and was disappointed to see them go back in 1999. I used to think that maybe I was “back dated, out of the times” even for my era. Good to see threads that others miss them also.
    I also preferred the Seasonal Shift of Whites to Blues. (Tropical CNT or Cotton Whites and working Blues “aka Johnny Cash”). Out of Date? Maybe, but I noticed more than a few threads that the Working Blue (“Johnny Cash”) Uniform is missed also.
    CPO/Officer Wash Khaki. I was very fortunate to be able to wear that Uniform, although Coveralls were worn onboard ship most of the time by the mid/late 90s etc. I was a Retiree before the Blue Camouflage and Khaki Shirt/Black Pants Uniforms.
    I have a good feeling that the CPO/Officer Wash Khaki Uniform will return. Hope I am correct.

  13. Number 1 the “bell botttom” dungarees were a life saving feature if any of you remember from boot. I grad boot from Great Lakes and served on the Shenandoah AD44. I understand modernization but don’t forget those who doned those fine uniformes, including my grandfather during WW2.

  14. I joined the USN from April 1992 to April 1995. At the time we were issued the dark blue dungarees pants, the light blue shirts, the white t-shirts you wore inside the light blue shirts, black boots, & a hat in boot camp (cap when you got to your command). I also recalled wearing blue coveralls also at times while I was working. We also had the seasonal changes of dress whites to dress blues uniforms. When I was in boot camp, the Military I.D. Cards were issued in a laminated plastic card type looking form. It wasn’t until probably towards the end of 1994, that I was taking a new Military I.D. Card when it was changed to a new scanning serial number type of I.D. form card. Also, my first command was on shore duty and I mostly lived in the barracks (3 different ones total during my time in). We didn’t have the beds where they’d open up like on the ship. What had was the bed plus a dresser drawer and closets. I was suppose to originally get out in 1996, but I got out a year early due to medical reasons. I had good and bad times in the Military overall. I don’t think I would’ve made the Navy my career by staying in for the long haul and retiring. Boot Camp alone was an experience in itself and till this day I still remember like it was yesterday. I was 20 years old when I enlisted and I turned 21 years old in boot camp on my first day of work week. It was the first time in my life being away from my parents, sister, home, etc. I remember crying that day wondering why, missing my family so far away from home, etc. Time in boot camp felt like forever that summer like I’d never get out. It seemed like the days were so long getting up early doing a lot of different things throughout the day with inspections, exercises, cleaning, marching, going to classes, etc. Finally, when it was all over and time went on to the graduation I fainted in the hot sun and was carried over to this white tent to get some water. When I tried to go back to my company to do the final March, I was told that I couldn’t go back and that I had to wait in the tent. It was horrible because my parents and sister were waiting to see me March with my company and had the video all ready to capture the memories of my graduation. I could go on and on about things I could’ve done differently knowing what I know now if I could go back in time. It’s all in my memory now, but even though times have changed, uniforms are different, I.D. Cards are scanning type, etc., I’m glad that I didn’t join right after high school and that I got to experience college first before joining the navy. I think if you go right after high school, your still young and didn’t have the chance to experience a little more life in terms of upper education, civilian job, research, etc. and it’s just different for everyone.

  15. Loved the dungarees which was a “WORKING” uniform. Not allowed to be worn off base except to and from home. Could stop at store for essentials (gas, milk, bread) not go shopping. Was able to be flotation devise if needed. Only replaced 1 shirt.

    Replaced with “utilities” to make us look sharper. But still the same rules for off base ware. Cheaply made.I had to replace 1 every 2 – 3 months.

    Got out as they were phasing the khaki shirt and digital camouflage so didn’t have to ware them. So, I can not give an answer on those. But I have seen sailors around town in them everywhere. But they need to go right back to Dungarees.

  16. i called seafarer the co. that made the navy jeans and bought 4 pair about 15 yrs ago still wearing em now got out in 82 after iran hostage crisis they r the reason i joined the navy i still trying 2 lose some weight so i can get into my 33 waist levi super belles also navy haze gray and under way

  17. What is with this obsession with the excuse “it shows dirt, paint or grease easily…” ?!?!

    If you are an engineer, boatswains mate or mechanic IT COMES WITH THE JOB. STOP BEING A BUNCH OF WHINY SISSIES.

  18. WILL the navy bring back the dungarees ? Spent 3.5 years in the hole (Boiler Room). Too days sailors do not know what a boiler room is.

  19. I wore dungarees for a few years in the late 90’s when I first enlisted, before they were phased out in favor of the gas station uniform. They were stylish, comfortable, and functional. 100% cotton. I loved that uniform and would love it if they brought it back for the bluejackets.

    Progress does not always need to mean changing something if it works great as-is.

  20. Nice article for a good idea!!! Well, the “utilities” were a good option, more adapted to the trendy of this century, but with the spirit of the old dungarees, I think. And the quality of his “chino” pants was not bad… Sorry, is possible find the picture of the three uniforms on a better quality, please?

  21. Active duty sailor here, came in with the type 1s 6 years ago, swapped to the type 3s. I wish we got the dungarees today, so much history and tradition behind them.

  22. There are people in Washington that are paid to sit around and think up things to change in the uniform or screw up navy tradition one way or another. It is the same in all the services but more prevalent in the navy that many of us served in. I had to turn in my Cracker Jack blues and white jumpered uniforms for bus driver uniforms just before retiring in 1978. Soon after the Dungaree uniform followed and the naval tradition all but died on that day. The Cracker Jacks have since returned making a bundle of cash for some navy uniform contractor and that seems to be the point of the whole exercise in futility all along. Some people just can’t leave a good thing alone or in navy terms a dead horse lie. We were unique and so were our uniforms that have now made us nearly the same as all the other services over the years. I joined the navy in 1957 and the biggest reason I joined was those blue dress cracker jacks that made you sway when you walked like you were at sea riding 25 foot waves. So change the uniform back and re-instate sanity back into the navy at least into the uniform we were all forced to wear. The navy apparently has retention problems but no one seems to be able to figure out why, when one look at the uniform is all the answer anyone needs. Make the navy whole again and return to the good old days of under bunk lockers and uniforms that were functional, easy to clean and even press by simply putting a change under your kip when you go to sleep.

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