The fight to save the Navy pea coat is underway

Eye on Veterans
September 21, 2018 - 12:57 pm

(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Tiffini Jones Vanderwyst)

The Lone Sailor statue is the most famous representation of our Navy's enlisted men, and as you can see in the photo above, that figure is wearing an icon: the pea coat. The cold-weather dress jacket is, without a doubt, the most fashionable item in any sailor's seabag. Seriously, what else issued by the Navy sells for $500 at some upscale retail shops?

But the pea coats days are numbered. In 2019 the Navy will be removing the coat from sailor's mandatory seabag list.

Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Daniel Viramontes

The Navy says they are making the move to cut cost and save space by replacing the pea coat and all-weather jacket with a basic parka.

Max Brickle owns Northwest Woolen Mills, which for the past 20 years has made roughly 50,000 pea coats annually for the Navy. Brickle says the Navy's explanation doesn't add up, as the parka will cost close to the same amount as the other two coats combined. Instead, he thinks it's another example of military leadership having an ulterior motive. 

"This has happened before and it's usually a 4-star general or admiral that wants to leave his mark,"  Brickle said during an appearance on the Morning Briefing radio show. "And they've decided to do it with the pea coat."

Image courtesy Northwest Woolen Mills/US Navy

The Navy losing an identifiable part of their uniform, and heritage would also mean a loss of business for Brickle's company and likely lead to layoffs. But Brickle says it's not too late for an about-face. It's for that reason that they've started an online petition at with the hopes that Sailors and Navy vets will want to make their voice heard.

"If a sailor is complaining about it and they might want to appease them, hopefully, that might have an opportunity to save it," Brickle said. But we're also reaching out to the veterans because they still have a voice out there. We're hopeful that between current day Sailors and veterans we can create a groundswell through our marketing campaign we're doing online and at least provide a voice in front of the admirals that are making this decision."

You can hear the full interview with Max Brickle below. To listen later, click Share and select Download from the options.

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