Ask the Chief: if it didn’t come in your seabag you won’t need it

I still remember a young sailor reporting aboard our ship who had been in the Navy about six months. A member assigned to our division, he was assigned a bunk in our berthing compartment. Aboard any vessel, but particularly a warship, space is at a premium and quarters for the crew are no exception. In the Navy, a crewmember has a very limited amount of space in which to store his or her belongings, and are designed to hold the contents of one’s seabag plus a small amount of toiletries we fit into a “ditty bag”. In this compartment, the three tiered bunks (“racks”) doubled also as lockers for each member’s gear. There were exactly the same ratio of racks to crew in every compartment aboard ship. (Only the Executive Officer, Commanding Officer and any visiting Flag Officer or dignitary had individual quarters.)

It was the second or perhaps, third garment bag he started to unpack, in addition to his seabag’s contents that drew the loudest “WTF!” from his immediate supervisor getting him settled in the berthing, No less than three color-coordinated suits – 1 green, 1 red and 1 yellow, came out of those garment bags. That he assumed that he would store them in adjacent lockers became a training opportunity. Thirty years ago, we were not as progressive in our attitude nor counseling methods as in 2022; in hindsight, we might not today be forgiven for thinking Gary (Indiana) was missing a pimp. He was advised to remove from the ship every item of civilian clothing that did not fit in his own bunk, after having stowed everything prescribed by Navy regulations for shipboard use.

Not that he was the only person to have belongings in excess of places to put them. Officers, Chiefs and blueshirts (junior enlisted sailors) having accumulated a few bulky items (Turkish and Persian rugs) when on liberty overseas, were known to conduct a lot of horsetrading with Supply, Medical, cooks, and Engineering peers to find cubbyholes when returning to the USA from deployment to the Mediterranean and Suez.


From the current Uniform Requirements for Men, in Paygrades E-1 to E-6, the following items are issued as regular uniform items and when precisely folded, will fit within a standard issue seabag. Some of the items are rank and other insignia which are affixed to uniforms in a prescribed manner. :

  • All-Weather Coat, Blue 1
  • Bag, Duffel 1
  • Belt, Web, Black, W/Silver Clip 2
  • Belt, Web, White, W/Silver Clip 1
  • Blousing, Straps 2
  • Boots, 9″ 1
  • Buckle, Silver 2
  • Cap, Ball 2
  • Cap, Garrison 1
  • Cap, Knit 1
  • Cap, 8-Point, with ACE logo 2
  • Cold Weather Parka 1
  • Coveralls (Navy), Blue 1
  • Gloves, Leather, Black 1 pr.
  • Group Rate Mark, Black 1
  • Group Rate Mark, White 1
  • Hat, White 2
  • Insignia, NWU (E4 – E6) 1
  • Insignia, Service Uniform Collar (E2 – E6) 1
  • Jumper, Blue Dress 1
  • Jumper, White Dress 1
  • Liner, Fleece 1
  • Mock “T” Neck 1
  • Neckerchief 1
  • Parka, NWU 1
  • Peacoat 1
  • Shirt, Khaki 2
  • Shirt, NWU 3
  • Shirt, PTU 2
  • Shoes, Athletic 1 pr.
  • Shoes, Dress Black 1 pr.
  • Shorts, PTU 2
  • Socks, Cotton/Nylon, Black 3 pr.
  • Socks, Cushion Sole, Boots 5
  • Towel, Bath1 4
  • Trouser, Broadfall, Blue 1 pr.
  • Trousers, NWU 3 pr.
  • Trousers, Poly/Wool, SU 1 pr.
  • Trousers, White Jumper 1 pr.
  • Undergarments As Needed
  • Undershirts, White 4
  • Undershirts, Brown 4

To my shame, now retired a dozen years, and more than fifteen since I last got underway on a Navy warship, I no longer practice the rigorous methods to stow my belongings. Then, neither do I have to stencil my clothes and underwear with my last name so they will return to the rightful owner from the laundry.

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