The modern issue Royal Navy rating’s cap is a development of the traditional cap that has been worn by sailors for over 100 years. These days the cap is mostly used for ceremonial wear and when wearing No 3 uniform, however it is also occasionally seen with working dress uniforms such as when rehearsing for parades. The cap itself is shaped differently to its earlier counterparts, which were more oval in shape and instead of a canvas top, which needs to be whitened regularly, the modern issue cap has a vinyl top to make it easier to keep clean. As always however, a woven cap tally is worn with the name of the ship or establishment the rating belongs to on it:
Not the chin stay on the cap. This is a fabric loop that can be worn under the chin to prevent the hat being blown off. When it is not needed it is usually tucked inside the cap and secured with a piece of sticky tape so that it doesn’t get in the way.
Looking at the cap from above, the round shape is quite clear:
The shape of the caps has undergone an evolution. They were originally circular, but this did not offer the best fit for long periods of wear(hence why so many were worn on the back of the head) so in the immediate post war period a more oval shape was adopted to fit the shape of the head. As the caps have ceased to be worn daily and are now most often seen for ceremonial duties the older rounder shape was reintroduced.
Two pairs of metal ventilation grommets are fitted to the sides of the crown and one set can be seen here above the bow of the cap tally ribbon:
The guidelines set out for the issue of cap ribbons are quite extensive:
a. Junior Ratings shall ordinarily wear the cap ribbon of the unit to which they are assigned.
b. Junior Ratings not on the trained strength in Phase 1 or Phase 2 training shall, irrespective of branch or trade, wear the cap ribbon of the training establishment to which they are assigned.
c. Junior Ratings who are on the trained strength and assigned to a training establishment for a TEM or other short course such as LRLC shall continue to wear the cap ribbon of their permanent unit.
d. Junior Ratings who are on the trained strength and who are assigned to a training establishment for a Career Course shall wear the cap ribbon of that training establishment, except that submariners may continue to wear the “HM Submarines” cap ribbon and entitled members of the FAA may continue to wear the “Fleet Air Arm” cap ribbon.
e. Submariners and members of the FAA who are assigned to the permanent staff of a ship’s company of any establishment or unit outside of their recognised fighting arm shall ordinarily wear the cap ribbon of that establishment or unit. Personnel may request permission to continue to wear their submariner’s or FAA cap ribbon, the matter being at the discretion of the Commanding Officer.
f. Any Junior Rating temporarily loaned to another unit for an exercise, training or operational purposes shall continue to wear the cap ribbon of their permanent unit.
g. Any exceptional circumstances not covered above shall be a matter for the judgement of the local Commanding Officer taking note of the sentiment conveyed in this article
Returning to the cap, the interior has a band of black felt around the band to help absorb sweat and offer a firmer grip on the wearer’s head to keep the cap on when the chin stay is not being worn:
My own personal experience with these caps is that in high winds and without the chin stay down they are liable to blow off. I was on my passing out parade at HMS Raleigh and the wind caught my cap and sent it bowling across the parade ground with a Leading Hand in quick pursuit!
A simple sticker is attached to the underside of the crown of the cap with sizing, NSN and contract numbers on it:
The caps can be seen being worn with a variety of different rigs over the years: