Home » Military Personnel » Navy Officially Retires ‘Bucket’ Cover for Female Officers, Chiefs

Navy Officially Retires ‘Bucket’ Cover for Female Officers, Chiefs

HMC Julie Dye holds her grandmother’s cover. “I think, for me, it’ll always hold a special place in my heart,” she said on Oct. 30, 2018. US Navy Photo

The Navy officially retired the combination – or “bucket” – cover this week, ending the 78-year run for the staple of the female officer and chief petty officer uniform.

Starting Thursday, all female officers and chief petty officers are required to wear what is officially called the unisex combination cover: essentially what is, in appearance and fit, the male cover in use for decades.

An all-female team of officers and chiefs – donning bucket covers – raised colors at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in Virginia Tuesday, marking the end of an era that started during World War II.

Navy social media was rife with tributes to one of the few noticeable differences between male and female uniforms. Such differences were precisely the reason cited five years ago for changing all female chiefs and officers to the male cover.

The official Facebook page of Surface Force Atlantic paid homage to the Bucket Cover on its last day.

“These changes ensure greater uniformity in our service and ceremonial dress, but more importantly, they send a clear signal that we are one in dress, one in standard and one in team. As you look out across a group of sailors, you ought to see, not female and male sailors, but sailors,” Ray Mabus, former Secretary of the Navy, said in a 2013 statement the unisex cover’s creation.

Initially, the switch to male-style covers was to occur in November 2016. Almost immediately, the Navy Exchange started phasing bucket covers out from its inventory, Courtney Williams, a Navy Exchange Command spokeswoman, told USNI News. The NEX destroyed any remaining covers by Thursday.

The bucket cover received a two-year life extension following pushback from female officers unhappy with the new requirement. The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act pushed the new cover implementation date to November 1, 2018.

“In comments on social media, questions in captain’s calls, and feedback across the blogosphere, the tide is running against the new cover. Women object to its rapid introduction, the unnecessary cost of replacing serviceable uniform items, and the unfairness of placing the burden for gender neutrality on women,” Cmdr. Kati Hill wrote in the December 2016 issue of Proceedings.

NMCP officers and chief petty officers gather for a group photo wearing their combination or ‘bucket’ covers on Oct. 30, 2018. US Navy Photo

The pushback against a unisex cover, though, was likely about more than cost, Hill wrote. Based on her read of social media comments, Hill suggested female officers worried about losing an important part of their identity.

Bucket covers, worn during ceremonial events, were seen by Hill as a way to help women balance the dilemma of proving competency in a masculine workplace but still retaining femininity.

“By removing the bucket cover from the sea bag, Navy leadership is removing one tool servicewomen may use to navigate the double bind,” Hill wrote.

  • Ed L

    Ugliest looking cover ever

  • vetww2

    Ah, if this was the only Navy topic that we needed to worry about!

  • Lazarus

    Uniform changes come and go. Ernie King and Elmo Zumwalt’s uniform changes were reversed by successors. The blueberry uniform came and went. A future female CNO might desire to return the bucket cover.

    • Hugh

      Cams (DPNU) don’t look as good as the traditional rig, and are hot in summer.

    • Duane

      Yep – they come and go, and the poor service members get stuck with the bill every time the unis change due to the latest direction of thinking/lack of thinking from naval leaders.

    • Marsha Therese Holden

      I certainly hope so! I love the bucket cover! It’s a statement! Squared away! Lt Marsha T Holden, US (Ret).

  • Ctrot

    Because males and females are exactly alike. Or something like that.

  • Reiji

    WTH? I thought the “Bucket Cover” was cute all along. Why?!

    • theseer


    • theseer


  • eddie046

    Hey don’t they tuck in shirttails any longer either?

    • Starka

      I think that’s the uniform for pregnant service members.

  • Boo Hoo, what CPO or officer can not afford the new cover. Snowflakes just complaining to complain. Enough get with the program, act like cpo’s and officers and stop makeing bucket covers out of combination covers. MMCS(SW)(SS) USN Ret.

  • ConcernedinAlaska

    Perhaps now we can get rid of those annoying bulges in the chest area… Way too distracting

  • Michael Hoskins, Privileged


  • BudgetGeek

    Men telling women to dress like men as a response to sexual discrimination is both ineffective and insensitive. Apparently senior leaders are incapable of embracing diversity and instead choose to try to erase it. How shameful that 27 years after the Tailhook scandal we still don’t know how to properly treat women in the Navy.

    • Exactly. When we dress women like men, what we’re doing is creating an inferior caste of men.

    • a9yms1

      there shouldn’t be a distinction b’t the genders hence the word UNIFORM., esp. in the field – we should all be wearing the same uniforms

    • Marsha Therese Holden

      They just want to assault us and say, “Oh, I didn’t mean it! I’m a man and that’s just how it is! They shouldn’t be here anyway taking a man’should billet. Just dress like a man and we won’t be tempted!” I think that’s the point!

      • vitor_gutierrez

        marshathereseholden wrote

  • C.E.Rice

    Ray Mabus approved – enough said.

  • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

    Yes, in this enlightened age, why would one want to be able to tell the difference between men, and women?

  • Western

    In my next life, I want the armed forces uniform contracts.

    It’s US Navy headgear. Which one provides adequate vision for ducking through doors and hatches, stays on in a sheer wind, and makes an effective air-capture flotation device? International orange/SOLAS strip inside?
    I thought so.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    I’m surprised some Heck hasn’t been raised that this is ‘discriminatory’ towards the females! I’m wondering why there were no public calls for the ‘bucket cover’ to be utilized for ALL personnel? Stay tuned…

  • vetww2

    When are they gonna stop wearing combat fatigues in the Pentagon?