The guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) is the first of three ships to wear test the Navy’s Improved Flame-Resistant Variant (IFRV) coveralls, beginning this week.
The intent of the deployment-length wear test, which includes Carney, the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and the Los Angeles-class submarine USS Newport News (SSN 750), is to address concerns from Sailors in the fleet about current FRV coveralls’ endurance and fit.
Evaluating the IFRV during a deployment in a shipboard environment enables Sailors to test the coveralls’ durability and comfort while at sea and gives the most accurate and relevant feedback.
Sailors chosen to evaluate the new coveralls will receive four pairs: two unisex utility coveralls and two flyers’ coveralls, which have separate male and female sizing.
Women account for approximately 20 percent of the wear test group, ensuring the evaluation group accurately represents Navy demographics.
“We’re testing two variants and two different fabrics because we listened to the feedback from the fleet…we’re a learning organization,” said U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Director of Fleet Ordnance & Supply Rear Adm. (Sel.) Pete Stamatopoulos. “Our first priority is the safety of our Sailors, but we also considered recommendations to improve the quality, functionality and overall professional appearance.”
The trial period will evaluate quality, durability, comfort, and appearance. The IFRV offers updates to address the response from Sailors about the current design. The improved variant also addresses complaints such as belt loops that didn’t hold, worn Velcro, and broken zippers.
The original FRV coveralls also experienced considerable shrinkage. Sailors would routinely “upsize” their initial issue to get an appropriate fit. Additionally, upon washing, the coveralls lost color and wrinkled. Sailors who participate in the trial period for the IFRV will not be “upsized”; they’ll evaluate whether the new fabric holds true to size throughout the wear test.
The Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility (NCTRF) expects the IFRV coveralls, made from one of two lyocell/modacrylic/para-aramid fiber blends and weighing about 10% less than the FRV fabrics, to breathe better, and manage moisture better than the previous design, a chemically-treated 100%-cotton fabric.
NCTRF chose the two blends from a list of 17 recommended fabrics based primarily on flame-resistant quality and comfort. The new fabrics also provide protection against arc flash hazards.
Wear test participants will take a survey when issued the coveralls to learn Sailors’ initial impressions of the IFRVs. Sailors will also be asked to complete an online survey at the mid-point of the testing period.
At the completion of the wear test, Sailors will report their experiences with the IFRV and be asked for their evaluations of the fabrics and coverall designs for overall performance, comfort, durability and appearance. Sailor feedback will help the Navy determine if the improvements in comfort and durability make the IFRVs a viable replacement for the Fleet.
Image: US Navy