GREAT LAKES, Ill. -- Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, visited Recruit Training Command (RTC) April 5-6, to experience how recruits develop character and professional competence during basic training.
The new hands-on learning curriculum at RTC focuses on the warfighting skills of firefighting, damage control, seamanship, force protection, and watchstanding, to develop tough Sailors who are more qualified for service at sea.
The training was designed by RTC's senior enlisted instructors to provide more realistic training to recruits, and contribute to fleet readiness and overall force lethality.
"Injecting realistic scenarios into the basic training curriculum prepares recruits to be assets to their divisions when they report to the fleet," Sawyer said. "RTC instructors have done a fantastic job in implementing our continued focus on readiness and training."
The visit included walkthroughs of several barracks, where recruits conduct drills in preparation for their practical evaluations and practice for life at sea. The ships host applied lab spaces for recruits to gain more hands-on practice time in seamanship, firefighting, damage control, and first aid.
Recruits receive more hands-on repetitions and sets at the USS Marlinespike and USS Chief practical training facilities.
USS Marlinespike is RTC's dedicated practical seamanship trainer, where recruits conduct timed drills in shipboard and pier line handling, sea and anchor detail, and at-sea watch stations.
USS Chief is a controlled training environment, where recruits fight real fires in shipboard compartments. Drilling with various fire suppression agents, lifesaving equipment, and safety gear; teamwork and communications are critical elements recruits must embrace to advance in training.
In the classroom, applied labs, and practical trainers, recruits conduct more than 30 hours of seamanship training, and more than 40 hours of firefighting and damage control training before reaching their final exam aboard USS Trayer, a 210-foot replica of an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer.
The final exam at RTC is called "Battle Stations-21" (BST-21), where recruits apply the critical skills they have acquired over eight weeks of training during a series of overnight scenarios aboard USS Trayer. Each scenario is designed to test recruits as individuals and as a team.
"The commitment of the RTC team to making each training day worthwhile is apparent in these scenarios," Sawyer said. "Practicing these valuable skills during basic training, and even standing fleet watch stations, are helping to produce highly-qualified Sailors."
Sawyer completed his visit to Great Lakes by serving as the reviewing officer at recruit graduation, where 726 of the Navy's newest Sailors celebrated completion of basic training.
Recruit Training Command is approximately eight weeks and all enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control, along with lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. Approximately 40,000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.