Navy working uniforms are extremely flammable and will melt in a fire, putting sailors at risk, the Navy announced Wednesday.
The nylon-and-cotton (referred to as NYCO) uniforms worn by sailors on ships and at bases “will burn robustly,” and turn into a “sticky molten material,” according to a test conducted in October by the Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility.
“It will melt and burn to consumption,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, chief of information, said in a statement.
There have been no uniform requirement changes made after the finding. Navy officials said they are committed to sailor safety.
“Where there is a need, fire retardant/flame resistant clothing is provided,” Kirby said.
Under the textile flame resistance test, the uniform cloth was subjected to a flame for 12 seconds. Marine and Army uniforms made of rayon, para-aramid and nylon fibers were also tested, but only the Navy uniforms melted and were consumed by the flame, according to a report on the tests.
“If this sticky molten material came in contact with skin it would contribute to increased burn injury due to conductive energy transfer,” the report concluded. “The use of the NYCO material in an environment where there is potential for a flame or thermal threat is not recommended.”
Sailors on ships are regularly exposed to the threat of fire, especially those working with or near planes or engines.
The Navy removed its requirement that all uniforms be flame-resistant in 1996. (hat tip R.J. Godlewski)