U.S. Navy boot camp is seven to nine weeks long with training taking place at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois. It is the only boot camp location for the Navy. Throughout their training, recruits will be pushed mentally and physically to see if they’ve got what it takes to claim the title of a United States Navy Sailor. Is a loved one about to become a Sailor? Check out our RTC Great Lakes blog to book your travel to RTC Great Lakes.
“The mission of our organization is to maintain, train, and equip mission-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining the freedom of the seas. Training is an asymmetric advantage that enables us to maintain a strong and capable maritime force to ensure security, stability and trust around the world.” – Rear Adm. Joseph Kilkenny, Commander, Naval Education and Training Command (CNETC)
Here’s our guide to what happens at Navy boot camp, from P – Days all the way through until graduation as well as some frequently asked questions about boot camp. To ensure that you have a jump start on your journey to becoming a Seaman read our Navy pre boot camp fitness and nutrition guide and our Navy preparation guide.
P – Days
Navy P – Days / Processing Days are the initial days once recruits arrive to boot camp, this is where a Recruit’s journey will begin. When they arrive at boot camp, they will be allowed to make one quick phone call home to inform loved ones they have arrived safely. Don’t worry, that won’t be the last time you hear from your recruit, they will be allowed another phone call in 3 weeks time. P-Days is not considered official training, meaning that the overall time spent at basic training can vary from 7 – 9 weeks, as the length of P – Days can vary.
Navy P – Days are where all the administrative work is completed such as paperwork, medical testing and the receiving of Navy gear. A commissioning ceremony where each division is given their guidon marks the end of P – Days and the official start of Navy boot camp.
Early Stages of Boot Camp
The first few weeks of Navy boot camp are a shock to the system, as recruits will be taken out of their comfort zones and put into a high stress and high intensity training environment. Training will begin in all aspects of fitness, academics and marching. The core values of the Navy, “Honor, Courage, and Commitment“, will become the recruits mantra as they are pushed to their physical and mental limits.
Notable events that happen in the first 2 weeks of Navy basic training include the initial Swim Test, to ensure basic water skills, and the Confidence Course. The Confidence Course is a team based test designed to simulate potential shipboard situations in order to test recruits on their newly learned skills and increase their confidence in themselves and in others. Successful completion of these first few weeks means that recruits are well on their way to becoming Sailors.
Keep your future Sailor motivated during these first few weeks by sending them a letter through the Sandboxx app. Knowing what to write in your Letters can be hard, so we’ve put together a list of topics to write about when writing to your recruit.
Half Way Through Boot Camp
With the first few weeks of basic training behind future Sailors, the focus shifts more on the practical skills of becoming a Sailor. Recruits will have their first Physical Test, learn all the basic skills needed for being shipboard including communication, signals and knot-tying as well as learning to use weapons. Physical and academic training still take place but recruits will start to notice their improvements in these areas as they further advance through basic training.
Some one on one mentoring also occurs at this time to provide recruits with the chance to explore all the opportunities available to them within the Naval Forces and to draw a roadmap of how best to achieve their goals. All of this new knowledge and planning will give recruits a better understanding of what will be expected of them when they officially become part of the United States Navy.
Final Few Weeks
The end is almost in sights for recruits but the last few weeks preceding graduation are tough. Physical, academic and drill training comes to its end with testing taking place to ensure that recruits are well versed on all things Navy. Training in ship repair and firefighting takes place, two of the most important skills any Sailor needs. The Confidence Chamber test also takes place where recruits must handle speaking and remaining in a gas chamber. That is not the end of testing for recruits.
The infamous Navy Battle Stations is the last aspect of a recruit’s training before graduation. A grueling event encompassing 12 different scenarios is designed to put everything future Sailors have learned to the test. Successful completion as a team brings the ultimate prize, a U.S. Navy ball cap. This signifies the end of basic training and the beginning of their U.S. Navy journey as a fully fledged Sailor.
The time has finally come for recruits to officially become Sailors in the greatest Naval Force in the world. They are permitted to a Pass In Review at the USS Midway, RTC’s ceremonial drill hall which officially marks their graduation and entrance into the fleet of the United States Navy. New Sailors will march in in their new dress uniforms and can be unrecognizable from when they left for boot camp two months ago. Those who receive awards for their performance in boot camp will be specially acknowledged and their family will be informed in advance. Graduation day is a most memorable day for these new Sailors and their families as they reflect on how far they have come and all of their accomplishments. After the celebration ends new Sailors will head off for A – School where they will continue their training based on their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS).
“I can imagine no more rewarding career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, ‘I served in the United States Navy’ ” – John F Kennedy, former President of the United States of America and Former Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy
Other Questions about Navy Boot Camp
How to keep in contact during Navy boot camp?
The best way to stay in touch with your recruit is through mail. Phone calls occur very rarely and there is no access to the internet or any other communication devices while your recruit is in training.
Learn more about how Sandboxx has made sending letters to recruits much easier. It is important to note that RTC Great Lakes does not accept care packages through mail so ensure you only send letters and photographs.
In the case of emergencies, messages can be relayed through the American Red Cross and RTC Great Lakes do have a phone and email although it is advisable to only contact through them when it is an absolute necessity.
What happens if my recruit fails a test/ qualification at Navy basic training?
If your recruit fails an element of testing, they are not scheduled to graduate until it is passed. If this occurs, recruits are permitted a phone call to inform you of this. They will not be allowed another phone call until they pass that test to inform you of their graduation date pending the rest of their basic training. In the scenario that they pass the final element after their division has graduated, they will move straight to A- School without partaking in graduation.
How many people can go to Navy graduation?
RTC Great Lakes permits a maximum of 4 people per recruit which can be reduced to 3, depending on the size of the graduating class. This can be checked in advance. Recruits will give the names and information of those they wish to invite to their graduation and who will receive a security clearance form. There is no wait list for RTC Great Lakes nor will anyone whose name is not on the list be allowed onto the base. Get all the information you need for Navy Boot Camp Graduation and start planning your trip.
What happens after Navy graduation?
Once the graduation ceremony takes place, the new Sailor, depending on their location, will have to begin processing for their new A – School which can take some time. Usually they will be allowed a day of liberty to spend time with family and loved ones, but they must be back on base by a required time which should be checked in advance with their new A – School.
To receive weekly in-depth updates of what your recruit is doing at boot camp you can download the Sandboxx app for free on Google Play or in the iOS App Store.