Navy Boot Camp

Basic Questions About Navy Basic Training

drill sergeant and recruit
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Where is Navy Boot Camp?

Navy Boot Camp is held at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes (RTC Great Lakes), north of Chicago, Illinois. It is the only enlisted basic training location for the Navy since 1999.

When Does Navy Boot Camp Begin?

A new training group of recruits begins boot camp, RTC Great Lakes, almost every week. At boot camp, the first few days are P-days for processing, with training beginning after approximately five days.

Navy Drill Instructors - Recruit Division Commanders

The real fun begins when you are assigned to a Recruit Division, and get to meet your instructor. In the Air Force, instructors are called MTIs (Military Training Instructors). In the Army, instructors are called Drill Sergeants. In the Navy, the instructors are called RDCs (Recruit Division Commanders). As with the Army, addressing an RDC as "Sir," or "Ma'am" warrants the death penalty. It's vital that you address a Petty Officer as "Petty Officer so-and-so," and a Chief as "Chief so-and-so." As with MTIs and Drill Sergeants, Navy RDCs are hard-of-hearing, and you'll have to yell at them in order to be heard. Never, ever forget, especially when it comes to Navy Chiefs. Navy Chiefs wait with eager anticipation for new recruits to address them as "sir," or "ma'am." This is normally followed by a tyrannical display, intending to throw recruits into a total disarray of confusion, while demonstrating that it is really Navy Chiefs who are in charge of the Navy (and new recruits).

Boot Camp Week By Week

P Week: Boot Camp begins with P-days, approximately five days long. During P-days you will undergo medical, dental and administrative screenings, get inoculations and be issued uniforms. You will learn the basics of watch standing, chain of command and the organization of Navy life.

At the end, you will have a commissioning ceremony and at that point your boot camp training will officially start.

Week 1. After P. week, the real Navy training begins, and if you think your RDC was tough during the first couple of days, wait until the first week officially begins. The first three weeks of Navy Boot Camp are clearly the toughest (physically, and stressfully). Get through the first three weeks, and you'll almost assuredly graduate. As with Army and Air Force Basic Training, during the first couple of weeks, you'll find that no one can seem to do anything right.

During the first week, you'll be required to take your initial swim qualifications. Before you graduate boot camp, you'll be required to pass the requirements for 3rd class swim qualifications. Also during this first week, your RDC will introduce you to the complexities of military drill (marching). Classroom learning during week one will be about rank/rate recognition, rape awareness, equal opportunities, sexual harassment and fraternization, and core values. The first week is also your most intensive week of physical conditioning.

Week 2. During the second week, you'll receive your dress uniforms (Yea! More clothes to stencil!).

You don't get to keep your dress uniforms, however. Just as soon as you stencil them, you'll take them over to the tailor's to be fitted correctly. Your classroom work will consist of a course on professionalism, test taking, Navy chain of command, watch standing, and customs and courtesies. You'll also take your first written test, covering all the subjects that you've learned so far. Of course, physical training, drill, and general getting yelled at will continue through this week.

Week 3. During the third week, there's less classroom learning, and more on-hands learning. Your classroom work will consist of training about Naval history, laws of armed conflict, money management, shipboard communications, navy ships and aircraft (fixed wing and rotary wing), and basic seamanship. You'll recap these with your second written test.

After that, put on your gloves, and dust off your knot-making techniques, as you'll get to practice basic line-handling skills (after all, we can't have new recruits tying a slip-knot and allowing that aircraft carrier to drift away from the dock. This would upset the Captain, and would undoubtedly irritate your chief). You'll also get direct experience and practice in first aid techniques. Of course, during week three, the yelling, drill, and physical training will continue.

Week 4. During week 4, you'll note that you're not being yelled at quite so much. It seems that either the RDCs are slacking off, or you and your shipmates are starting to get your act together. Depending upon what kind of shape you were in to start with, you may also note that your muscles don't hurt as much when you wake up each morning. This is a good thing, as week 4 will be your initial Physical Training Test. If you don't do well on this test, you'll find yourself in line for some "individual training," and remember what I said about not wanting to do that. Nope. No fun at all.

The Navy PT Test consists of sit-reach, curl-ups, push-ups, and running/or swimming. The Navy is the only military service which tests for flexibility. They do this by means of a sit-reach test. The testee sits on the ground with his/her legs stretched out in front, knees straight, and toes pointed straight up. Without jerking or bouncing, you lean forward and touch your toes with your fingers. You must continue to touch your toes for at least one second. You get three tries.

Curl-ups are just sit-ups with knees bent, and arms crossing your chest. You must score a "Good" or better on each area of the PT Test in order to graduate Navy Boot Camp. (After Boot Camp, it's merely necessary to score a "Satisfactory" or better on the PT Tests).

Also during the fourth week, you'll pick up your dress uniforms (hopefully, they fit now!), and get graduation (yearbook) pictures taken.

Week 5. The fifth week of Navy Boot Camp used to be "Service Week" spent cleaning up the facility. Those duties were turned over to civilian contractors in 2003.However, in October of 2003, the Navy eliminated "Service Week." All of this "cleaning up" is now done by civilian contractors. This freed up more than 30 additional hours that can be used for recruit training and administrative tasks. The Navy is using this additional time during week #5 to add the following:

  • Increasing the number of live rounds fired with the M-9, 9mm handgun from five rounds to 40 rounds.
  • Firing five “frangible” training rounds on a Mossberg shotgun.
  • Extensive anti-terrorism/force-protection briefings on threat conditions, history of terrorism and steps sailors can take to present less of a potential target.
  • Computer classes and familiarization with the Navy Knowledge Online Web site.
  • Eight one-hour mentoring sessions, with RTC staffers and an RDC.

What is the Confidence Course?

Week 2 of Navy boot camp wraps up with your first visit to the confidence course. If you're in any kind of shape at all, you'll enjoy this part of the course. To my knowledge, this is the only indoor confidence course in the military. The Navy Boot Camp Confidence Course is designed to simulate obstacles one may have to encounter during a shipboard emergency. Recruits don OBAs (Oxygen Breathing Apparatus, standard equipment for shipboard fire-fighting) carry sandbags, toss life rings, and climb through a scuttle (a small circular door) with full seabags. As with the Army Confidence Course, this is not an "individual" event. It's a team effort. Recruits complete the course in groups of four. The object is to cross the finish line as a team, not as individuals.

How Do You Get Paid for Boot Camp?

Direct Deposit is mandatory for military pay. You should already have a bank account set up before you leave for basic training, and bring your account information and an ATM/debit card with you. If you don't have an account set up, one of the first things the staff will do is require you to establish an account at the base credit union or base bank. However, it may be several weeks before the bank can give you a debit card, which will impact on your ability to access your pay.

During your in-processing, you will complete paperwork to begin your military pay. Military personnel are paid on the 1st and 15th of each month. If those days fall on a non-duty day, you are paid on the preceding duty day. Your pay is direct-deposited into your bank account.

So, when will you receive your first paycheck? Good question, and one that can't be answered accurately. In general, if your military pay information is entered into the Finance Computer System prior to the 7th of the month, you'll receive your first paycheck on the following 15th. If the information is entered into the Finance Computer System after the 7th of the month, but prior to the 23rd of the month, you'll receive your first paycheck on the following 1st. However, please note that the date you fill out the paperwork during in-processing and the date the information is input into the Finance Computer System are not the same dates. A Finance Clerk is going to take the paperwork you filled out, and enter it into the Computer. However, the clerk is entering the information of hundreds of other recruits at the same time, so it may take several days before yours gets entered. I always advise people to estimate that the first paycheck won't be deposited until a full 30 days after arrival. That way, if you're paid before that, it's an unexpected surprise, and if it takes the entire 30 days, it's what you were expecting anyway.

In any case, your first paycheck will contain all the pay you have coming to you at that point. For recruits without dependents, that means base pay, only. For those with dependents, it means base pay and housing allowance. Your first paycheck will be "pro-rated" to the number of days you've been on active duty. For example, if you receive your first paycheck 30 days after arrival, you will receive the full-rate of the monthly basic pay in that paycheck, and (if you have dependents), the full rate for the monthly housing allowance. If, however, you receive your first paycheck two weeks after arrival, it will contain 1/2 of the monthly base pay, and 1/2 of the monthly housing allowance (for those with dependents). Of course, taxes and other deductions (such as deductions for non-issue items, such as running shoes, soap, shampoo, laundry, etc.) are taken out.