Great Lakes, Illinois - Watch standing has been a time honored tradition and cornerstone for operations at sea since the birth of the Navy. Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy's only boot camp, builds the foundation of watch standing skills for all enlisted Sailors.

Preparing for life at sea, recruits maintain an around-the-clock watch rotation during basic training, practicing various watch stations as they are manned in the Fleet.

"All Sailors stand watch," said Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Austin Milton, a Recruit Division Commander in charge of coordinating and overseeing watch standing training. "Watch standing is a critical skill of basic training, and is imperative to warfighter readiness."

Part of the new hands-on learning curriculum, designed by RTC's senior enlisted instructors to develop tough, more qualified Sailors through realistic training, recruits practice five core watch stations as they would on a ship.

As Roving Sentry, recruits patrol and maintain proper security and safety standards of their barracks, which are known as "ships" at RTC.

As Sounding and Security, recruits record and report the status of their ship's equipment such as thermometers, pressure gauges, and the hours of operation for each piece of machinery.

As Deck Watch, recruits control the primary entry point to the ship, ensuring all personnel, visitors, and reports are accounted for in the deck log.

On board USS TRAYER, where recruits experience Battle Stations-21, recruits practice Bridge Watch, where they monitor the ship's heading and speed while standing helm and lee helm. They work in concert with Lookout and Radar watch stations, making contact reports, where they report other vessels and possible hazards to the ship.

Recruits also conduct small arms familiarization training, where they have the opportunity to earn their M9 Service Pistol qualification, further readying them for watch in the Fleet.

"We have eight weeks to develop recruits in to tough, qualified Sailors," said Machinery Repairman 1st Class Jeffrey Tumacder. "This hands-on learning curriculum mimics requirements at sea, and trains recruits in the critical skills and core competencies to send them to the Fleet ready to stand watch."

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. About 40,000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.