Sailors aboard Britain’s most advanced warship are testing a new dark blue uniform – which could become standard issue across the Fleet.
HMS Daring’s sailors have been given the Personal Clothing System (Combat Uniform) to try out on the ship’s maiden deployment in the Gulf.
Pictures: LA(Phot) Keith Morgan, HMS Daring
DO NOT let the half dozen baseball caps fool you. This is the bridge of a Royal Navy, not American, warship – the most advanced ship in the Fleet no less.
Aboard HMS Daring on patrol in the Gulf, the ship’s company of the £1bn destroyer are trying out a new day-to-day uniform which is going through its first colour change since World War 2.
The 180-plus sailors aboard the Portsmouth-based warship, on her maiden deployment, have been given the new Personal Clothing System (Combat Uniform) to wear during the working day.
LET Richard Lewis, Lt Thomas Gell and Lt Nadia Robertson model the new uniform
The new No.4s – as working rig is known throughout the Fleet – come in numerous layers, making it suitable in all weathers, and comprises a T-shirt, shirt, thermal fleece and windproof smock. It also includes a belt and a new pair of boots with a zip in place of shoelaces.
The traditional rank insignia on the shoulders are now worn on the front, while a large ship’s badge is now emblazoned on the arm.
And blue is the new, er, blue. Just in a darker shade.
Working rig, WW2-style. Second Coxn PO Hedley Woodley at his diving station on the forward hydroplanes aboard submarine HMS Tribune in 1942. This rare wartime colour image was shot for the Ministry of Information film Close Quarters
The current No.4s worn daily by sailors and submariners comprise a light blue shirt and navy-coloured combat trousers.
As such, despite different materials used and minor tweaks, the working rig hasn’t fundamentally changed in 70 years – so Daring’s ship’s company were a little lukewarm at first, but the new uniform has grown on them.
Life in a (dark) blue one...
“So far the reaction on board the ship has been very positive,” explains Daring’s logistics officer Lt Cdr Ben Hughes.
“People were initially apprehensive but it is a comfortable, practical uniform that looks much more modern.
“The boots are very comfortable as well, especially for people who are stood on their feet all day and with the zip it makes it easier to just pull them on and off. I think people will find it hard to go back to the old uniform now.”
The large Daring badge now emblazoned on the arms - a new addition to the uniform
The PCS, which has slanted pockets on the legs for easier access when sitting down, has been designed to save the wearer the maximum amount of time possible when getting ready.
As well as zipped boots, the collar can be turned up and fastened instantly with velcro rather than fiddling with buttons – essential for ailors needing to get changed in minutes for fire-fighting duties.
An American Seahawk helicopter leaves Daring's flight deck during recent exercises
“It is basically a dark blue version of the Army's new Multi Terrain Pattern Uniform," Lt Cdr Hughes adds. “People here are really proud to be wearing it, HMS Daring is a new ship on her first deployment and the fact that we get to trial a new uniform seems appropriate.”
The trial aboard Daring is being mirrored on HMS Westminster – also on patrol east of Suez, clamping down on piracy – and hunter-killer submarine HMS Talent.