RAN Commodore visits US Navy's only boot camp

Published on Naval Service Training Command Public Affairs Scott A. Thornbloom (author and photographer)

Location(s): Great Lakes, Illinois

Topic(s): Training

Royal Australian Navy Attache, Commodore Steve McDowell, RAN congratulates recruits following a capping ceremony on board Recruit Training Command. (US Navy image by Scott A Thornbloom)
 (photo: Scott A Thornbloom)
Royal Australian Navy Attache, Commodore Steve McDowell, RAN congratulates recruits following a capping ceremony on board Recruit Training Command. (US Navy image by Scott A Thornbloom)

The Royal Australian Navy attaché to the United States visited the US Navy’s Recruit Training Command (RTC) at Great Lakes, Illinois, from 31 October-1 November.

Commodore Steve RW McDowell toured RTC's state-of-the art facilities and served as the reviewing officer for the weekly Pass-In-Review graduation in RTC's Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall, during which 1001 recruits, after completing all recruit training requirements, officially became sailors.

“I was really looking forward to this visit on so many levels. It's a great honour and privilege to be not only the reviewing officer but to also be able to see so many fine young United States men and women and their families,” said McDowell.

“They have really achieved something in their lives and it's really terrific to see.”

McDowell congratulated the RTC staff and leadership, and told the recruits to feel proud of their training, proud of the petty officers, chief petty officers and officers that mentored and trained them and to continue to feel the pride of service as they move on in their Navy careers.

“Each of you, like our Australian men and women that join our respective navies have selflessly answered the call to duty, to serve a cause greater than yourselves. There is no finer calling and you should all feel proud, as I do, of your service.”

McDowell had the opportunity to sit and talk with many of the graduating recruits at a pizza night the night before graduation in the USS Arizona recruit barracks dinning facility. Pizza night is a congratulatory and more relaxed dinner where recruits can unwind with each other, knowing in less than 24 hours, they will be graduating from the Navy's only boot camp.

“I was interested in what they thought of the process of (going through recruit training) and what they thought were the highlights and lowlights. I was staggered by the responses I received as every answer began with “we” rather than “me”. And that really said volumes for how they all really rose to the challenge of becoming part of the Navy team,” said McDowell.

McDowell also had the chance to tour some of RTC’s most distinctive structures including the 173,000 square foot, three storey physical fitness training facility, Freedom Hall. He also toured other RTC facilities, including the USS Arizona recruit barracks and the USS Trayer (BST 21), the Navy’s largest simulator. The 210 foot long Arleigh Burke class destroyer replica Trayer is home of Battle Stations 21, which is the culmination of eight weeks of training by recruits. Battle Stations 21 is a gruelling 12-hour test of a recruit’s skills in several shipboard scenarios, including firefighting, combatting flooding and transporting casualties.

“I loved the whole experience,” he said.

“I saw the combination of the recruits graduating, their families and the staff and the genuine commitment to one another and the team. It was really emotional to see that and was terrific.”

RTC is primarily responsible for conducting the initial orientation and training of new recruits. The command is commonly is referred to as ‘boot camp’ or ‘recruit training’ and has been in operation at Great Lakes since 1911. Boot camp is approximately eight weeks, and all enlistees into the United States Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control and lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. Since the closure of RTCs in Orlando and San Diego in 1994, RTC Great Lakes is now the Navy's only basic training location, and is known as ‘The Quarterdeck of the Navy’. Today, more than 40,000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.

RTC is overseen by Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), headquartered in Building 1; the historic clock tower building on Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. NSTC oversees 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy. NSTC also includes the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps at more than 160 colleges and universities, OTC Newport, and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.

Original news article courtesy of US Navy at http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=77473.

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