In 1994, Recruit Training Command (RTC) Great Lakes became the Navy’s only recruit training facility. Better known as “boot camp”, recruit training involves a change in the mental and physical capacity of the new recruit. From the first day at RTC through graduation day when new Sailors board the bus to depart, recruits find themselves in a whirl of activity. Every recruit entering the Navy today will remember RTC as their introduction to Navy life.
When the young men and women arrive at RTC, they are formed into divisions and assigned three Recruit Division Commanders (RDCs). During the first week, known as in-processing days, forms are filled out, medical and dental exams given, inoculations administered and haircuts received. During their seven-week stay at RTC, the RDCs work together to mold the new recruits into Sailors. RDCs are Chief Petty Officers or Senior Petty Officers specially selected for their leadership and teaching abilities. They must represent and teach Navy tradition, customs and discipline.
Recruit training is not an endeavor to be taken lightly. The workload is heavy and the recruits must adjust to a completely new way of life. Classroom and skills instruction by the RDC give recruits information on how to adjust to and succeed within the Navy. In addition to classroom instruction, recruits spend time learning the fundamentals of small arms marksmanship, seamanship, water survival, line handling, and fire fighting. Long days and intensive training leave the recruits little free time.
During the first training week, divisions enter into the competitive aspects of training. Excellence in academic achievement, military drill, cleanliness and athletics all count toward earning recognition flags. Competition encourages teamwork and develops pride in achievement. The climax of the competitive series is the Pass-in-Review practice where the best divisions can earn Battle “E”, CNO or Hall of Fame honors.
At the end of the seventh training week, recruits undergo a final evaluation called Battle Stations 21. This 12-hour event culminates in the award of a Navy ball cap to replace the recruit ball cap that each recruit wears during training. The symbolic change of hats indicate their status as Sailors in the World’s Finest Navy.
Each week, the Commanding Officer of Recruit Training Command hosts an impressive Pass-in-Review ceremony that attracts more than 175,000 visitors annually. The Pass-in-Review ceremony marks a recruit’s public recognition as a Sailor.