The Navy shipboard community is a hazardous one. Flooding, toxic gases, food shortages, fires, and the occasional sabotage are all a part of a sailor’s everyday life. The Navy designs their uniforms with the aforementioned possibilities in mind, but there is always the slight oversight. One such oversight was the notorious flammability of the Navy Working Uniform Type I that would basically disintegrate after exposure to fire. In response, the Navy issued sailors a new uniform called the Fire Retardant Variant (FRV) coveralls that would offer better protection during the common casualties of shipboard life. However, the suits originally issued were only a temporary solution from the start.
Finally, the Navy is finally ready to start issuing out the new variant of the old FRVs. Aptly named as the Improved Fire Retardant Variant (IFRV); they will be issued after the old stock runs out. It was originally estimated that they would finally run out of supplies somewhere around April and indeed it wasn’t until May when the new suits started being issued. But, not everyone in the Navy will receive one right off the bat. Sailors who were issued the last batch of FRVs will have to wait for the shelf life to expire on those (normally a period of six months). By December of 2018 though, most if not all of the sailors will have a brand new set of duds to show off. However, if these coveralls were so effective, then why fix something that wasn’t broken?
Well… the answer is the community response to the coveralls. The original FRVs weren’t only lacking in durability and comfort, but they also shrank horribly when washed or ironed. Furthermore, these FRVs were purchased off-the-shelf starting in 2013, around which time the Navy decided they could engineer their own set with additional improvements. Not only are the IFVRs made with better fabric, their durability is extended by three months to a total of nine. Additionally, a test conducted by the fleet demonstrated that nine out of ten sailors found the new variant more comfortable to wear than the original. As an added bonus, if the IFRVs ever catch fire, they will self-extinguish within seconds even if they have been washed several times.
But, if they were such an improvement over the original, then why didn’t the Navy issue them out earlier? Well, the reason is actually a surplus of the originals; the Navy wasn’t too keen on letting their inventory of FRVs go to waste. As such, they waited to run out of their inventory before mass producing and releasing the new ones. It’s a fair decision, but it leads one to wonder if someone’s life could have been saved by releasing them earlier…
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