JULY 27, 2015, GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) – Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) Adm. Michelle Howard visited Recruit Training Command (RTC) to tour the base and attend a recruit pass-in-review while serving as the ceremony’s reviewing officer, July 24.
RTC, the Navy’s only boot camp, graduated 709 Sailors from nine divisions and was attended by more than 2,000 family members and friends of the recruits from across the United States. Howard was joined by other staff including Rear Adm. Stephen Evans, commander, Naval Service Training Command, and Capt. Doug Pfeifle, commanding officer, Recruit Training Command.
Howard began the morning touring Battle Stations 21 (BST-21), a 12-hour test of a recruit’s skills in several shipboard scenarios, including firefighting, combating flooding and transporting casualties. The test is held on board the 210-foot-long Arleigh Burke-class destroyer replica, the USS Trayer, the Navy’s largest simulator.
Howard also observed a capping ceremony, the culmination of eight weeks of training by recruits. Recruits change their ‘Recruit’ ball cap for their new ‘Navy’ ball cap to signify the transition from Recruit to U.S. Navy Sailor.
After Howard watched the recruits navigate and complete the challenges in BST-21, she congratulated them and welcomed them as Sailors.
“Admiral Howard’s many trailblazing accomplishments in her 32 years of Naval service are an indication of both her fortitude and commitment to excellence and integrity,” said Pfeifle. “Her visit to RTC and her time with the Navy’s newest Sailors is evidence of her commitment to the Navy’s future. Having the vice chief of naval operations visit RTC is a great symbol of the Navy’s senior leadership connecting with our newest Sailors.”
As a 1982 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Howard became the first African American woman to command a warship when she became the commander of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47).
Pass-in-review is a longstanding military ceremony that began as a way for newly assigned commanders to inspect his troops. Visiting military members and dignitaries act as the reviewing officer for weekly pass-in-review ceremonies and have the honor of inspecting and sharing words of encouragement to the Navy’s newest members before entering the fleet.
During the pass-in-review ceremony, Howard addressed the graduating Sailors and the guests in attendance and began her remarks by speaking about the significance of the Navy cutlass in Naval tradition.
“The Navy cutlass is significant because throughout the age of sail, this was the Sailor’s favorite weapon; strong and sharp, robust enough to hack through heavy ropes, yet compact enough to be at a Sailor’s side,” said Howard. “Like the cutlass, you have become sharp.”
Howard then went on to congratulate the Sailors on their accomplishments and their commitment to the Navy.
“Today you are standing in the footsteps of thousands of warrior Sailors who have volunteered to serve their country in a time of conflict. These men and women have gone on to sail and fly in the greatest Navy in the history of the world. The fleet you are about to join is strong and sharp and ready to keep our nation and our way of life,” said Howard.” The fleet is excited to have you and we will look forward to you demonstrating the same energy as you did here at Great Lakes. Like the cutlass you are strong, you are sharp, and you are ready to succeed. Congratulations and welcome to the United States Navy.”
RTC is primarily responsible for conducting the initial Navy orientation and training of new recruits. The command is commonly referred to as “boot camp” or “recruit training.”
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 familiarization, firefighting and shipboard damage control, lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline.
Since the closures of RTC’s in Orlando and San Diego in 1994, RTC Great Lakes is the Navy’s only basic training location, and is known as the “Quarterdeck of the Navy.” Today, approximately 38,000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.
RTC is overseen by Rear Adm. Stephen Evans, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), headquartered in Building 1; the historic clock tower building on Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois. NSTC oversees 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy.
NSTC also oversees the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) at more than 160 colleges and universities, Officer Training Command at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.