What to Expect at Navy Boot Camp and Officer Candidate School

Navy recruits doing a tug of war

You're probably feeling nervous now that you're about to head off to boot camp. Don't worry — whether you just decided to join the Navy or have been practicing naval maneuvers since you were a little kid with a bathtub fleet, what you're feeling is perfectly normal. Knowing what to expect when you get to boot camp can help you feel more prepared and confident.

Recruit training, or boot camp, will transform you from a civilian into a sailor with all the skills needed to perform in the fleet. If you're on the Navy officer path, you'll attend a 12-week course to prepare for an officer's responsibilities.

What you need to know about Navy recruit training


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You'll start your military career at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois. Here are some answers to a few common questions.

What happens during recruit training?

Your training will last seven weeks and include:

  • Processing days. The first five days at Recruit Training Command will include medical, dental and administrative screenings, a thorough round of inoculations, and an initial issue of uniforms. You'll learn the basics of watch standing, get information to memorize, and learn how to organize your gear and life.
  • Physical training. Expect one-hour daily workouts, six days a week. Training alternates between cardiovascular endurance, and strength and conditioning exercises that focus on building your body's major muscle groups. You must pass the Navy Physical Fitness Assessment in your sixth week of training to graduate from boot camp.
  • Classes. These will cover topics that every sailor needs to know. Some classes are taught by instructors and others will be self-paced computer-based instruction.

All recruits will also get hands-on technical training in the following areas:

  • Basic seamanship. You'll learn the basics of line handling and shipboard watch standing. By the end of the third day, you and your fellow recruits will be tested on getting a simulated training ship underway and back to port safely as a team.
  • Firefighting. Every sailor is also a firefighter. The firefighting phase is five days of classroom lectures and hands-on fire team training.
  • Water survival. You'll learn basic techniques for surviving at sea. Training teaches you to stay afloat in open water — without a personal floatation device — long enough to be rescued if you were to fall overboard. Training also includes swimming 50 yards, a five-minute prone float, and clothing inflation.
  • Weapons training. You'll learn to handle and shoot an M9 service pistol and M870 shotgun, and receive basic antiterrorism and force protection training.

After five and a half weeks of boot camp, you'll complete Battle Stations, an intense, 12-hour final evaluation where you'll apply everything you learned in boot camp, and prove that you have the skills, discipline and core values to be a sailor.

What do I need to know about Officer Candidate School?

Officer Candidate School, or OCS, is located at Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island. You'll complete a 12-week course that gives you working knowledge of the Navy, prepares you to assume the responsibilities of a Naval officer, and helps you develop to your fullest potential. OCS includes academic training, memorization, and military and physical fitness training. Its purpose is to:

  • Develop qualities important to your success as a junior officer, including honesty, integrity, work ethic, military bearing, character, dependability, initiative and teamwork
  • Instill discipline, attention to detail, patriotism and pride, and build esprit de corps
  • Develop time management skills and train you to perform capably under pressure and in adverse conditions
  • Provide you with fundamental knowledge of the naval profession through classroom and practical instruction

Still have questions? Check out the additional resources below.


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