Navy Bars Families From Recruit, Officer Graduations Over Coronavirus Concerns

March 9, 2020 1:24 PM
Recruits march in formation due to inclement weather at Recruit Training Command on Feb. 13, 2020. US Navy Photo

Concerns over spreading COVID-19 strain of coronavirus caused the Navy to bar families from attending boot camp and officer candidate school graduations and to cancel Liberty for graduates, the Navy Recruitment Training Command announced Monday.

The policy, first posted to the command’s Facebook page, starts with Friday’s scheduled graduation ceremonies. The graduations will continue and will be live-streamed on Navy platforms, including the command’s Facebook page, Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Martin, a spokesman for the Naval Service Training Command, told USNI News.

“This action is being taken out of an abundance of caution, to both ensure the welfare of sailors and that RTC can continue its essential mission of producing basically trained sailors. RTC Recruits impacted by this change are being authorized to call home to directly inform their loved ones,” the command stated on its Facebook page.

Currently, the command does not report any known cases of COVID 19, Martin said.

Screenshot from Navy Recruit Training Command Facebook page

However, over the weekend, a sailor in Naples, Italy and a Marine in Virginia both tested positive for the COVID-19. These were the first instances of the virus being discovered on Navy and Marine Corps facilities, according to a Saturday statement from U.S. European Command and the Marines.

In the U.S., 164 cases COVID 19 and 11 deaths had been reported as of Saturday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Each year, the Navy’s Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, trains more than 35,000 recruits at the center located outside of Chicago at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois. Annually, more than 175,000 visitors attend the training center’s near-weekly graduation ceremonies, known as the Pass-in-Review ceremony.

“This week, approximately 700 recruits are scheduled to graduate from RTC,” Martin told USNI News in an email. “RTC graduations occur weekly, usually on Fridays, but the number of recruits graduating fluctuates from week to week.”

The policy barring family members from attending graduations also extends to officer candidate school graduates. Next week the Officer Training Command is due to graduate about 80 officers, Martin said.

“Recruits and OTC students impacted by this change are being authorized to call home to directly inform their loved ones,” Marin said.

Ben Werner

Ben Werner

Ben Werner is a staff writer for USNI News. He has worked as a freelance writer in Busan, South Korea, and as a staff writer covering education and publicly traded companies for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., Savannah Morning News in Savannah, Ga., and Baltimore Business Journal. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree from New York University.

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