Why Indian Navy now has a camouflage uniform like in Army and Air Force

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh at the Naval Air Station in Campbell Bay, Great Nicobar Island, on 13 November 2020. Photo: Twitter/@SpokespersonMoD
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh at the Naval Air Station in Campbell Bay, Great Nicobar Island, on 13 November 2020. Photo: Twitter/@SpokespersonMoD

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New Delhi: For the first time, the Indian Navy has introduced camouflage uniform on the lines of the Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) as part of a larger uniform rationalisation and standardisation measure, ThePrint has learnt.

Navy sources said officers started using the new uniform with digital camouflage pattern a few months ago.

Camouflages or battle dress uniforms (BDU) are fatigues that are worn by the armed forces as the standard uniform for combat. The battle dress is generally camouflaged, either in monochrome such as shades of green or brown to approximate the background or in a disruptive pattern as in the latest change.

The new camouflage uniform will be worn by Navy personnel only on Fridays and ashore as of now, the sources said. For sea, there are existing fire retardant overalls, which would be used by the personnel. 

Based on a study, which included looking at uniforms worn by navies around the world, the Indian Navy adopted its digital camouflage pattern, the sources said. 

“The pattern is formed of small rectangular pixels of colour. This is much more effective camouflage than standard uniform pattern as it mimics the dappled texture and rough boundaries found in natural settings,” said a Navy source. 

The Navy has the largest number of uniforms at 16 — each for different occasions — among the three services. The Army has nine and the IAF has 15. All the uniforms are numbered. 

Navy sources told ThePrint the camouflage uniform, sanctioned in June 2019, will replace Dress No. 10A — the light blue half-sleeve shirt and navy blue trousers. 

“Introduction of this uniform for the entire service will eliminate dress No. 10A from the Navy inventory and lead to reduction in the number of uniforms and associated accoutrements being worn by Navy personnel,” the Navy source quoted above said. 

The uniform has already been introduced for officers. For sailors, it will be introduced by October 2021 as it involves large procurement chains, the source added. 

Also read: Indian Navy inducts two American drones on lease, could add more later

‘There would not be a mismatch’

Former Navy spokesperson Captain D.K. Sharma (retd) told ThePrint the trials for the new uniform were carried out when Admiral Sunil Lanba was the Navy chief.

“The uniforms were also introduced in the Naval Academy earlier. It is procured centrally for the sailors from the source and thereafter stitched at various naval bases. Navy uniforms have evolved from the khaki uniform to the blues to the Dungarees/overalls and the disruptive pattern is the latest change,” he said.

Navy officers added the move also brings in an uniformity with other foreign navies, who have camouflage uniforms.

“For instance, in exercises with other navies, there would not be a mismatch as against earlier,” a senior Navy officer said. 

“The blue uniform (which is now being replaced with the camouflage uniform) was also mistaken at times with the IAF uniform. It, too, had a short life of about 10 years,” the officer added.

Officers are granted allowances periodically to maintain their own uniforms. All sailors are entitled to free uniforms.

More changes in uniforms

A few other changes have also been introduced by the Integrated Headquarters of Ministry of Defence (Navy) last month with respect to Navy uniforms.

Navy sources said it has been decided that naval personnel will stop wearing dress number 4A and 4B. 

Dress number 4A comprises a peaked cap/white turban, white bush jacket, shoulder rank stripes, ribbons, name tally, chest badges, white trousers and uniform accoutrements. It is worn on ceremonial occasions like meeting diplomats or heads of states, etc. 4B is the same as 4A, but with medals instead of ribbons. 

Sources said it has also been decided that naval personnel will wear dress number 8A with medals as summer uniform on relevant occasions. 

Dress 8A comprises peaked cap/white turban, white half-sleeve shirt, shoulder straps for officers, arm badges of ranks for POs and below, ribbons, name tally, chest badges, white trousers. It is the regular everyday white uniform worn by naval personnel. 

Dress number 5 and 6 will not be used for the time being, sources said. 

Dress number 6 comprises peaked cap/white turban, white full-sleeve shirt, black bow tie, white mess jacket, shoulder stripes, black summer trousers, and black cummerbund. It is the evening formal mess uniform for winters. 

Dress number 5 comprises peaked cap/white turban, white full-sleeve shirt, black bow tie, black mess jacket, stripes on sleeves, black cummerbund, and black winter trousers. It is the summer evening mess uniform.

Also read: Navy to approach Kerala govt seeking ban on unauthorised sale of armed forces uniform


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