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U.S. Navy plans to phaseout the iconic Navy Peacoat

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Decision will lead to layoffs in New England, affect business and jobs across America

The U.S. Navy phaseout of the traditional Navy Peacoat will result in several hundred lost jobs, and could mark the beginning of the end for New England woolen manufacturing. The idea to phase out the Navy Peacoat was announced in August 2016, and beginning in 2019, the Peacoat and All-Weather Coat would be eliminated from sea bags. Starting October 1, 2018, the black Cold Weather Parka (CWP) would begin the transition as the standard Navy outerwear worn with service and service dress uniforms and issued as a sea bag item for recruits and new accessions.

This phaseout could put out of work a group of small businesses that have supported the needs of the Navy and its requirements for the Navy Peacoat for decades. The mills supporting the program were never officially notified of the phaseout plan. We believe that the U.S. Navy was unaware of the collateral damage of their decision to phaseout the wool Peacoat by replacing it with a 100% Synthetic Parka. It will not only result in the closing of manufacturing facilities and lost jobs, but it will also impact the ability of the woolen trade industry to satisfy other U.S. Military wool clothing requirements.

“The Navy Peacoat was developed in the early 1800’s by the Dutch to meet the needs for a durable piece of outwear that could withstand the harsh rain, wind and cold temperatures typically experienced out at sea,” said author Matthew Wong.

The Peacoat is an iconic U.S. Navy dress uniform garment. It has been and continues to be a popular fashion coat for both men and women. The coat is a high performance garment that continues to be an excellent protective layer for not only yesterdays, but today’s sailors. Why would the Navy want to phase it out?

Adding salt to the wound, the synthetic Parka that is set to replace the Peacoat was developed by the company Propper. If they are awarded the new contract, the Parka will be produced in Puerto Rico and not in the United States.

The supply chain that extends from textile mills in New England to Philadelphia, as well as the sheep farmers across the Midwest, are currently trying to get an audience with the U.S. Navy to halt the phaseout of the Navy Peacoat. We are hopeful, through the voices of our U.S. Senators – Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey – as well as U.S. Congressman Capuano, that our voices and concerns will be heard.

“Sterlingwear of Boston has enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the U. S. Navy since 1967. In times of need, Sterlingwear of Boston has responded and provided the necessary peacoats when needed, as well as accommodating design and material changes over the years. The impact of this decision is far reaching and will affect the lives of so many who currently work in the textile and apparel industry which is already severely impacted by the loss of manufacturing and jobs to overseas. The peacoat is an iconic garment worn by sailors for hundreds of years and is symbolic of the navy and those who have served and are presently serving. To discontinue this garment that means so much, to so many, will be a disservice to those who have proudly worn or who currently wear the U.S. Navy Peacoat” said Jack Foster, Director of Marketing at Sterlingwear of Boston.

“The negative impact that this decision has on our business is unparalleled in our long history of working with the U.S. Navy. The numerous small businesses that rely on this product and the many employees that will be affected by this decision cannot be understated. It is imperative that this decision be revisited and reversed,” said David Fredella, VP/COO of Sterlingwear of Boston.

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