Joining the Navy? Part 1: Seaman Ship Out Guide-Prep Checklist

navy-girlHas the ocean been calling your name? Have you always felt called to serve your country and stand up to protect your family? If you are considering joining the Navy, or any other branch, then it is imperative that you understand what you are signing up for.

Enlisting as a Seaman can be the start of an exciting and character building adventure. Although many items mentioned here could be applied to those preparing for other branches of services, the Navy has certain unique differences that can’t be found anywhere else. Becoming a Seaman means living at sea, usually aboard a navy vessel or submarine. Unlike other newly enlisted men and women, seamen will go through boot camp training at the only naval boot camp base, Great Lakes Naval Training Center, which is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan. Because all training will be done indoors, in order to prepare seamen for conditions on a navy vessel, it’s important to be prepared for a life with limitations to the outside world. Get your sea legs ready and prepare yourself with a Navy checklist.

Life after Enlistment

Once you’ve enlisted into the Navy, you have made a serious commitment. Many newly enlisted seamen are filled with excitement and questions about the next steps in their military career. There’s a lot of work to do before boot camp. Some young folks may be tempted to have a “good time” before they’re shipped off to training camp, but it’s a better idea to get in shape physically and mentally. Life at the naval boot camp is a 7-9 week challenge; a transformation that will surely change your life. Start getting in shape before you go to boot camp, it may help you transition into the rigorous schedule a bit better. In boot camp, seamen will be expected to excel at conditioning, marching, swimming, and drilling.

Here are some suggestions to get you started before you head off to boot camp:

  • Start exercising if you don’t already. The Navy will expect you to be healthy and of good form during boot camp. Waiting to exercise until you’re forced to could be more difficult than you think.
  • If you smoke, quit. Tobacco is not permitted at boot camp and the Navy does not allow tobacco use. Nicotine withdrawal can be difficult, so it’s best to quit as soon as you’ve made the decision to enlist.
  • Learn to be “humble.” Vanity will be tossed aside when you head to boot camp. Boot camp does not allow men and women to wear contact lenses or makeup. Makeup, for women, will be basic and used only for photographs, graduation and family night.

Ready for Boot Camp

Once you’ve received notice to head to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, it’s important to know what you should take with you. While it’s an exciting trip and chapter in your life, don’t over pack! Chances are, all the things you want to take will be sent home.

The following items are “MUSTS” when shipping to basic training:

  • Picture ID or Driver’s License
  • Birth Certificate
  • 1 Days’ Worth of Civilian Clothing
  • Direct Deposit Form (this is important if you want to get paid)

Storage space is limited. You may bring the following items, if you can fit it in a small gym bag:
– Prescription glasses
– Money ($25 max.)
– Copies of dependent’s birth certificates, divorce decree of both husband and wife (if applicable), current record of inoculations, Social Security Card, Check book/ATM card, marriage certificate (if applicable)
– Sanitary items and prescription birth control
– Personal Hygiene Kit
– Small Address Book and small Bible or religious book

Don’t pack as if you are going on a vacation. “Luxury” items will be confiscated or donated to a charity. Recreational drugs, paraphernalia, and sex items, as well as weapons, will get you in trouble immediately. Use common sense, pack wisely. The Navy is your future that you are committing to. Don’t make careless mistakes before it begins!

Embarking on an Adventure

As the Navy states, you are starting “A career filled with endless opportunities…And a chance to make a difference in the world.” You’ve enlisted, you have your checklist, do you have your bags packed?

About the Author
Andrew Miller is an avid blogger, environmental law student, future JAG Officer and co-founder of the tech startup Scan & Ban (; a free mobile app developed to empower the public to find out what toxins are in their food and pass legislature to ban those dangerous ingredients.

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