RCN on the road to a new operational dress uniform

February 10th, 2020 - Defence Stories


Royal Canadian Navy sailors dressed in the new Naval Enhanced Combat Uniform.

Did you know the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is getting a new operational dress uniform? The current uniform, known as the Naval Combat Dress (NCD), was initially developed in the early 2000s. It is a three-piece uniform made up of a heavyweight jacket with liner, trousers and a lightweight shirt. After almost two decades of use, we are working to see how we can make improvements.

A sailor’s uniform is a source of pride. Wearing quality, well-fitting equipment and clothing are a boost to morale and enables RCN success on operations, which is what makes this project so important.

The Department of National Defence and the RCN are currently trialling a new two-piece uniform, consisting of a long-sleeved shirt and pants. This new uniform is known as the Naval Enhanced Combat Uniform (NECU) and will replace the current operational dress. The new uniform will provide increased comfort, performance, and a better, more streamlined fit overall, while functioning in all operational environments. The current shirt and jacket will be replaced with the heavier-weight NECU shirt, which will have a better fit, minimized bulk in the pockets and improved functionality with current and future layers such as the Naval Wind & Rain ensemble. The trousers will have a modern cut and fit.


A sailor’s uniform is a source of pride. 

Approximately 400 naval members are currently wearing the new dress as part of the trial. The goal is to make sure that the views and opinions of members are factored into any final decisions.

A lot of research is going into the new design. Surveys were conducted on the current uniform to identify issues and deficiencies. We undertook gender-based analysis, an important step to making sure we get everything right. In the coming weeks, surveys and focus groups will be conducted to get members’ feedback on the NECU to ensure that deficiencies were addressed.  All this will go a long way towards a final uniform that works well for all members of the RCN, and is well suited for the operational environments and challenges they face.

If you are a member of the RCN, you can expect to receive your new uniform starting winter 2021 as you replace worn items of the current NCD. We anticipate the RCN should be completely outfitted over the following three years.

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