Acting Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) James McPherson, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike M. Gilday and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Russell Smith speak with Recruit Training Command (RTC) staff members inside the USS Chief Fire Fighter Trainer at RTC. The acting SECNAV, CNO and MCPON visited RTC, the Navy's only boot camp, to observe operations during the COVID-19 global pandemic. More than 35,000 recruits train annually at the Navy's only boot camp.


Today, the Acting Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) James E. McPherson, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MPCON) Russell Smith visited Recruit Training Command (RTC) Great Lakes to discuss the impact of COVID-19, as well as tour the facility and meet with recruits and staff.

During their visit to the Navy’s only recruit training location, known as the “Quarterdeck of the Navy,” they discussed the impact of the Coronavirus on training and mitigation efforts that have been implemented to ensure the health and safety of Sailors at RTC.

“Today, with the extraordinary challenges posed by COVID-19 and the continual threats we face in a changing global security environment, I want to commend everyone here at RTC Great Lakes for their commitment to our Navy’s future,” said McPherson. “I am keenly aware of the tough job you do, and the dedication you show every day to preserve the health and safety of our future force. It is great to visit such a hard-working and high-performing team.”

To help preserve the health of more than 4,000 Recruits at RTC, several health protection measures have been implemented, including enhanced social distancing measures, deep cleaning, and face-covering requirements, and directing essential active duty staff to remain aboard Naval Station Great Lakes. Recruits who arrive spend 14-days off site in a restriction of movement period and are asked to self-isolate prior to arriving.

“COVID-19 has tested our Navy and required us to make hard choices, especially at Great Lakes,” said Gilday. “Seeing the tremendous efforts you all are making here to ensure health and safety of the force as we train our future Sailors is inspiring. And because of your efforts, I am confident that our future Sailors will be ready for whatever comes their way.”

Smith also echoed similar sentiments.

“The Recruit Division Commanders (RDCs) and support staff have truly embraced this innovative approach to continuing the process of preparing recruits for the fleet, while balancing the health and safety of all who are affected,” said Smith. “This isn’t business as usual, and serves as a clear example of the exceptional commitment our Sailors have to finding solutions to challenges that arise and threaten the Navy’s mission. I am so incredibly grateful for the service of these selfless leaders, as well as the families who are supporting them - so passionate and dedicated to the singular cause of molding the future of our force. The recruits who are passing through Great Lakes need only to look upon their own RDCs and instructors to see some of the best examples of innovation and teamwork, the real power of unity and how to overcome adversity. These lifelong lessons will accompany our newest Sailors wherever their careers take them.”

This trip was McPherson and Gilday’s first visit to RTC since assuming their current roles.

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