Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois

Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois
Recruit Training Command Logo

Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, is the command within the United States Navy primarily responsible for conducting the initial orientation and training of new recruits. It commonly is referred to as boot camp, recruit training, or informally "Great Mistakes". It is approximately eight weeks long. All enlistees into the United States Navy begin their careers at the command, as do a select number of officer candidates. Upon successful completion of basic training, qualifying sailors are sent to various apprenticeship, or "A schools", located across the US for training in their occupational speciality, or ratings. Those who have not yet received a specific rating, enter the fleet with a general designation of airman, fireman, or seaman. Recruit Training Command is located at Naval Station Great Lakes in the city of North Chicago, Illinois in Lake County, north of Chicago. It is a tenant command, meaning that although it is located on the base, it has a separate chain of command. Since the closure of Recruit Training Commands in Orlando and San Diego, Great Lakes is the only basic training location in the Navy, and has been called "The Quarterdeck of the Navy," since it was first utilized in 1911.



Inspection circa World War I

After the Spanish-American War, the Navy began investigating 37 sites around Lake Michigan in order to locate a new training center in the Midwest, an area that contributed 43 percent of the Navy’s recruits at the time.[1]

Illinois Congressional Representative and chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs (1900 – 1911) George Edmund Foss pressed for the decision to locate the center at its present location, and was later called "The Father of Great Lakes." Foss Park, just north of the base in North Chicago is named in his honor. It is likely the facility would have been located elsewhere had it not been for the $175,000 contribution of the Merchants Club of Chicago to purchase the land.[1]

Rear Admiral Albert A. Ross was the station’s first commander, and the base's Ross Field and Ross Auditorium were later named in his honor. The first flag was planted on site on July 1, 1905. President William H. Taft dedicated the station six years later on October 28, 1911. In that same year the station received its first trainee, Seaman Recruit Joseph W. Gregg.[2]

The Golden Thirteen

Naval Station Great Lakes was at the forefront of the racial integration of the Navy. African-Americans were permitted to enlist for general service in the middle of 1942 receiving training at Great Lakes as well as Hampton, Virginia. Previously they had been restricted to special duties.[3] The Navy commissioned its first African-American officers, later known as the "Golden Thirteen," at Great Lakes in February 1944. In July 1987, building 1405, the Golden Thirteen Recruit In-Processing Center, was dedicated in their honor. The surviving eight attended the ceremony.[2]

Sailors sleeping in hammocks

Navy recruit training is now exclusively conducted at Naval Station Great Lakes' Recruit Training Command. Prior to the mid-1990s, recruit training facilities included Naval Training Center Orlando and Naval Training Center San Diego. Female recruit training was previously limited to the Orlando facility. The Base Realignment and Closure Commission of 1993 resulted in the consolidation of recruit training to Great Lakes. Following the consolidation, the Navy undertook a massive recapitalization (recap) program to upgrade the Great Lakes Recruit Training facility.[4] The recap included the construction of Camp John Paul Jones, a 48-acre (190,000 m2) site on land formerly owned by the Veterans Administration Hospital adjacent to Camp Porter.[5] New barracks were also constructed, and are referred to as "ships" by the recruits. Each "ship" was also named after an important ship in naval history, such as USS John F. Kennedy and USS Enterprise. Each "ship" can house up to 1300 recruits during training.

Sailors man the rails of the training simulator, USS Trayer (BST-21), completed in June 2007.

A 210-foot (64 m) Arleigh Burke class destroyer simulator called USS Trayer (BST-21)[6] was also constructed as part of the recap program also known as Battle Stations 21 (BST 21).[7]

One interesting note about the layout of the base are the railroad tracks south of the base where the Metra rail system runs. The south fence has numerous holes cut in it by recruits attempting to leave boot camp without authorization, or, in Navy terms, going UA (Unauthorized Absence).


USS Enterprise (BLDG 7115)

USS Enterprise (BLDG 7115)

The USS Enterprise Recruit Barracks Building is the eighth of fourteen built as part of a $763 million recapitalization program.[8] Approximately 16,004 civilians are transformed into basically trained sailors aboard this "ship" each year.


The building is named after the eight USS Enterprises that have borne the name,[9] including the two famous aircraft carriers pictured around the building's quarterdeck. The first is CV-6, which was a ship of the Yorktown class launched in 1936, the most-decorated Navy ship in history, and one of only three American carriers commissioned prior to World War II to survive the war. The nautical flags hanging on the quarterdeck of BLDG 7115 are from CV-6. The second is CVN-65, the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Many of the displays on the quarterdeck of USS Enterprise (BLDG 7115) were donated by the CVN-65 Enterprise.

USS Enterprise (BLDG 7115) has 120,000 square feet (11,000 m2) of space, enough to accommodate 16 recruit divisions of up to 88 recruits each. This facility integrates berthing, classrooms, learning resource centers, a galley, and quarterdeck, all under one roof. Each "ship" has a Ship's Officer who fills the role of Commanding Officer, a Ship's Leading Chief Petty Officer who fills the role of Command Master Chief, and a Chaplain.

Training Timeline

Processing Week

The Atlantic Fleet Drill Hall in Camp John Paul Jones at RTC Great Lakes, completed in December 2007.

Navy Recruits begin their journey at Building 1405, Golden Thirteen, the Recruit In-processing Center in Camp Moffett. Recruits arrive at all hours, but mostly during the night. Before formal training can begin at Recruit Training Command, Recruits are screened medically, dentally, and administratively.[10] They receive a thorough round of inoculations, an initial issue of uniforms, and their first military haircut. They are taught basic grooming standards, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), standards of conduct, and are introduced to their Recruit Division Commander (drill instructor).

This first week of training, called P-Days (processing days), lasts for approximately five days but can run a little longer depending on weekends, holidays, and the schedule of arriving Recruits. During P-days, Recruits will be taught the basics of watch standing, they will be given information to memorize, and they will begin learning to organize their gear. P-Days conclude with a commissioning ceremony, led by the Recruit's Group Commander (Ship's Officer) in which their division's guidon (divisional flag displaying division number) is unrolled. This ceremony marks the official start of their training.[10]

It is considered by many recruits to be the hardest part of basic training.

Week One

Recruits march from their "ship" barracks named for USS Chicago.

This week is considered the most intense week of physical conditioning. Recruits take their initial swim qualification test, learn military drill, the details of rank and rating, and the Navy core values.

Week Two

During Week Two, recruits learn the Navy chain of command, custom and courtesies, and basic watchstanding.

Week Three

A Recruit Division Commander conducts "Instructional Training" to correct substandard performance during boot camp.

Week Three consists of hands-on training. Recruits learn laws of armed conflict, personal finance, basic seamanship, shipboard communication, and Navy ship and aircraft identification. Recruits also take their first physical training test, performing as many sit-ups and push ups as they can in two minutes and a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) timed run, the times for the run, and the amount of push-ups, and sit ups are determined based on the recruits age, which ranges from 18 to 34. Dog tags are distributed this week, and recruits receive their first paychecks.

Week Four

Week Four mostly consists of weapons training. Recruits are familiarized with the M9 pistol, and the Mossberg 500 shotgun. Sometime during the week recruits receive a classroom lecture on firearm safety and operation of the M9, and the Mossberg 500. Later, recruits receive live fire training with each firearm.

For the past few years training of the M16 Rifle to Naval Recruits has ceased. Any training on the M16 is done outside RTC Great Lakes.

Week Five

Week Five consists of learning more of drill instructions need from the military drill assessment. Week Five is also called "Hell Week", previously as this was when new recruits take over the daily chores necessary to keep the base running. However, since the redesign of RTC, recruits no longer participate in all aspects of daily chores. It has kept its moniker because this is the most inspection and test intensive week.

Week Six

Training at the Recruit Training Command's fire fighting school.

During Week Six, recruits learn shipboard damage control and firefighting skills. Recruits will learn to escape smoke-filled compartments, open and close watertight doors, use self-contained breathing apparatus, carry fire hoses and learn to extinguish fires. Week Six also consists of the Confidence Chamber (tear gas chamber).

Week Seven

A recruit graduation at USS Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall.

Week Seven is the last week of Navy Basic Training. These seven weeks, combined with Processing Week, make up the approximate eight week training cycle that each Recruit must complete before graduating. Week seven includes a comprehensive test of the material covered by Navy Basic Training in a grueling 12 hour exercise called "Battle Stations". This reinforces much of the instruction learned during Basic Training. Recruits must pass all the requirements of Basic Training to participate in "Battle Stations". Once Recruits have successfully completed "Battle Stations" they become Sailors, don their Navy Ball Cap and Pass In Review (PIR) at the USS Midway, Ceremonial Drill Hall, officially marking their graduation and entrance into the United States Navy.

Chain of Command

The recruit chain of command is one of the required knowledge portions of Recruits in training. Recruits may be asked questions about who is in their chain of command at any time during their time in training.

The current chain of command as of July 2011 is as follows:
President of the United States - Barack Obama
Secretary of Defense - Leon Panetta
Secretary of the Navy - Ray Mabus
Chief of Naval Operations - ADM Jonathan W. Greenert
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy - MCPON Rick D. West
Commander Naval Education and Training Command - RADM Kilkenny
Naval Education & Training Command Force Master Chief - FORCM Snyder
Commander Naval Service Training Command - RDML Steindl
Naval Service Training Command Command Master Chief - CMDCM Hughes
Commanding Officer, Recruit Training Command - CAPT Bethke
Recruit Training Command Command Master Chief - CMDCM Dodd
Executive Officer, Recruit Training Command - CDR Scott
Military Training Director, Recruit Training Command - CDR Neeley

Other parts of the recruit Chain of Command include: Fleet Commander, Fleet LCPO, Ships officer, Ships LCPO, and finally the three or four Recruit Division Commanders. These are given to the Recruits upon arrival at RTC Great Lakes.

Though he is not in the formal chain of command, recruits must also know the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden


External links

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