The Navy has changed a lot in its basic recruit training since I went through in 2005. Gone are the days when RDC’s (Recruit Division Commanders) would yell “Make It Rain” inside of your squad bay during a PT (physical training) session. The goal was to make recruits sweat so much that it would… well rain.
Now there are new ships (buildings) that are air-conditioned, so making it rain is a thing or the past. Even marching to the chow hall across base is long gone due to the new ships having everything enclosed in the same building. In that ship you will PT, go to class, eat chow, go to sleep and perform many other activities. In fact the majority of your time outdoors will be spent doing military drills.
Depending on the time of year you get to training, the PT that you don’t do in your squad bay, you will do at a heated and cooled gymnasium…. nice of them huh?
Processing week, or P-Week, is your first few days at the Navy Recruit Training Command (RTC). This time is spent completing forms and building your military record. Reviews, information on legal, mental, and health status are completed such as:
- Physical health assessments
- Wages, Benefits and Payment Processing
Don’t be fooled, this is not an “easy” time at Boot Camp. Though training has not officially begun, you should remember to stand at attention, respond only when spoken to and follow each direction exactly as told. It is important to only bring the items on the list given to you, as any unauthorized items are shipped home or donated.
During P-Week, men will receive the “buzz” cut and women are required to have their hair cut to the bottom of the uniform collar. Ladies: It may make sense for you to have your hair cut before leaving for boot camp into a style that you enjoy, you can grow your hair longer after training.
You will also learn about the UCMJ, the military’s legal code, the standards of conduct, basic uniform wear, stenciling or identifying your clothing and how to make your bed. If you are an overachiever you can YouTube “hospital corners” and start practicing how you will make your rack every single morning. Many recruits end up sleeping in their sweats and on top of their covers so they don’t have to remake their rack everyday. However, there will be timed drills on bed making, so you will have to know it anyway. Get used to the words “You have X minutes to make your rack in accordance with RTC instruction”.
Other important aspects of Processing:
- Make sure you bring legal documents to verify your marriage and ages of your dependents – marriage certificates and birth certificates.
- A positive drug test will get you sent home and prevent future enlistment. If you test positive for alcohol, you are screened and watched for signs of dependency. It’s best not to celebrate with alcohol before you leave.
Remember… Your first day of training hasn’t even officially begun yet.
Day 1-1, the first day of your first official training week begins your introduction into Navy Sailorization. Tired from processing week, this week pushes you as physical conditioning and team building begins in earnest. Your days begin with waking at 0600. Week 1 is a difficult time of conditioning. Chances are likely you will get yelled at for things you never even heard of before. Things like leaning on the bulkhead or having a crooked gig line can get you some unwanted attention, so find out what they are before you go. This week you will meet a myriad of assessments such as your first swim qualification. Other topics during week one include:
- Military Drill
- Rank/Rate and Insignia
- Core Values
- Conduct and Legal issues including fraternization, sexual harassment, rape and equal opportunity.
he second week of training focuses on building confidence and teamwork. You will meet a course built to train and test your responses during emergency shipboard situations. This course requires physical and mental coordination, fast thinking and attention to detail. You will also be instructed and tested on your rack making, shoe shining and physical skills.
In a hands-on environment, this week you will learn first aid techniques, nomenclature of the Navy’s ships (names), semaphore (signaling with flags), how to board and disembark a ship and basic seamanship. Your first PT (physical training) test is administered during week three. Recruits are tested on the 1.5 mile run, push-ups and sit-ups. Additional training in the third week of recruit training includes:
- Customs and Courtesies
- Laws and rules of armed conflict
- Shipboard communication
- Financial management
Training on firearms safety comes in week four, as you are introduced to the Navy’s standard issue rifle. You will undergo closely supervised and specialized weapons training on the rifle range. During the end of this week or the beginning of week five, you will also take graduation photos in preparation for your Pass and Review (graduation) ceremony.
- Women are allowed to wear makeup for the photo only. You can take a small amount with you to training for this purpose. However, remember airline and processing rules and regulations.
Week five is the beginning of the end. Classes and training continue as well as PT. By the midpoint you have been trained and are comfortable with conducting yourself in a manner befitting the Navy and you are learning teamwork and management that will keep you safe and effective during your Navy career. This week you will make careful considerations about that Navy career.
Week 6 will acclimate you to life shipboard. Fighting fires on board, controlling potential damage to the ship and properly wearing emergency gear are taught in week six. Fire fighting training, and shipboard damage control classes. Exposure to the gas chamber and reevaluation of your movement through the confidence course occurs this week. The concepts of confidence, teamwork and camaraderie are strengthened this week in preparation for the graduation exercise, Battle Stations, in the seventh week.
Battle Stations! Battle Stations is the culminating or last training examination, broken into 12 scenarios used to test your comprehension and application of the information presented in earlier weeks. Conducted in a high-tech full ship simulator, Battle Stations features sounds and feels that give an absolute experience of life aboard a ship. Passing the twelve-hour event with your division yields the reward of your Navy ball cap. You are no longer a recruit, but a Navy Sailor.
The weeks of training in drill and ceremony are put to task during Graduation/Pass and Review. Your dress uniform, specifically tailored for you is donned, your shoulders square and your head high. You have accomplished a task few in the US will and are now a part of the world’s finest naval force.