Lt. Margaret Straw, assigned to the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) assesses the wear and functionality of cloth face coverings to stem the spread of COVID-19. In total, NEXCOM procured and distributed 550,000 cloth face coverings to the Fleet as organizational clothing. Within a week of NAVADMIN 100/20 release, NEXCOM procured the face coverings by utilizing existing vendor relationships and serving as a stopgap prior to a Defense Logistics Agency source. NEXCOM™s six business lines have been industrious and determined to get Sailors and their families what they need in this ever-changing environment. NEXCOM is comprised of 14,000 personnel worldwide facilitating six business lines, NEX retail stores, the Navy Lodge Program, Telecommunications Program, Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility, Ships Store Program and the Uniform Program Management Office.


Since early April, the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) has delivered just over 550,000 cloth masks to the fleet.

Through its vendor relationships, NEXCOM procured and delivered the first 100,000 masks within one week of the NAVADMIN 100/20 release, which requires wearing a cloth face covering if six feet of distance cannot be maintained.

“As a Navy command, NEXCOM truly understands the needs of the Navy,” said retired Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, chief executive officer of NEXCOM. “Immediately after the NAVADMIN was released, our NEXCOM team jumped into high gear to fulfill this new directive. We were able to quickly lean forward and steer into unchartered water to fill the void until the Defense Logistics Agency came online with face coverings.”

NEXCOM buyers worked with three manufacturers, Brooks Brothers, Taylor Brand and Sewell, to procure the masks. Once they were made, they were sent to one of NEXCOM’s 11 global distribution centers. The first shipment went to USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard. Since then, the masks have been sent to Navy commands around the world.

NEXCOM’s unique mission and six business lines ensured the cloth masks went where needed and could withstand the rigors of the Navy and shipboard life.

Since the product is made out of a technical fabric with more filtration than cotton, NEXCOM’s Navy Clothing & Textile Research Facility conducted extensive wear and wash tests. The results confirmed they can withstand shipboard washing helped the team develop procedures for ships and Sailors to launder the masks. Once those procedures were finalized, NEXCOM’s Ships Store Program worked with supply officers aboard ships for dissemination of instructions.

“NEXCOM is here to support our Navy and our military members in any way we can,” said Bianchi. “We are proud to be a part of the process to help keep our military members safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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