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Cape May

Coast Guardsman smiling

Arrival at Cape May

Our goal at Cape May is to prepare you for military duty and the stress associated with emergency response operations. Our expert and professional staff will train and test you in physical fitnesswater survival and swim qualifications, wellness and nutrition, self discipline, vocation, academics, military skills, and military bearing. We strive to instill a sense of pride and honor in every individual, and to bring you, along with your company, to a new level of excellence. 

During the next eight weeks. we'll assist you in making the transition from civilian to military member. You'll gain the understanding of your responsibility to become a committed, productive member of the U.S. Coast Guard, and to define yourself by our core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty.


Integrity is our standard. We demonstrate uncompromising ethical conduct and moral behavior in all of our personal and organizational actions. We are loyal and accountable to the public trust.


We value our diverse workforce. We treat each other and those we serve with fairness, dignity, respect and compassion. We encourage creativity through empowerment. We work as a team.

Devotion to Duty

We are professionals, military and civilian, who seek responsibility, accept accountability, and are committed to the successful achievement of our organizational goals. We exist to serve. We serve with pride.

Statement of Rights

Certain rights are fundamental to the welfare of all recruits and shall not be free of discrimination, recrimination, or intimidation. The training environment will be free of discrimination, recrimination or intimidation based upon a person's race, creed, color, gender, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation. Recruits will not be harassed, and they will not be assaulted. Recruiters will be able to attend religious services and see a chaplain upon request, have access to medical care, and address concerns to their chain of command. 

Keys to Success

Act with Honor 

You are now subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Lying, cheating, or stealing will not be tolerated. Violating our core values can have serious consequences. 

Take Things Seriously

Transforming the recruits of today into the Coast Guardsmen of tomorrow is critical to the success of our organization and we take our mission seriously. We will demand the same from you. 

Prepare Yourself Physically

Arrive in your best possible physical condition; you'll greatly increase your likelihood of success at recruit basic training if you can comfortably exceed the minimum fitness standards

Prepare Yourself Mentally

Arrive having memorized the Eleven General Orders of a Sentry, the Phonetic Alphabet, and Military Time. Every week, additional general knowledge will be expected of you. We recommend that you learn as much general knowledge as you can now, as it will reduce your stress at recruit basic training. 

Follow Orders 

One of the things you'll learn in recruit basic training is how to obey all orders quickly, willingly, and without question. Get used to it. It will assist you in recruit basic training and in your Coast Guard career. 


You are about to get underway on an eight-week journey* that will provide you with the skills and discipline necessary to serve your country. You'll develop confidence, teamwork skills, and learn what it means to live in accordance with our core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty

*Recruit basic training is eight weeks long. However, if you are held back in training for physical fitness, academic, medical, or disciplinary reasons, it could be longer. 

Arrival/Forming Company

Week 1 

Start your travel to Cape May well rested. During your first night here, you'll sleep In the clothes you arrive in, so make sure you travel comfortably. 

Upon arrival at the Philadelphia International Airport, all recruits must report immediately to the USO office, within the secured side of the airport (not the ticket counter side or the baggage claim side). Follow airport signs or ask a TSA agent for the location of the USO. The Philadelphia USO phone number is 215.365.8889. 

If your flight is delayed and scheduled to arrive in Philadelphia after 1930 (7:30 PM), contact Cape May at 609.898.6971, your MEPS travel liaison (information given to you on travel day) and your recruiter. 

You should have been allowed to carry your bag onto the plane; however, there may be circumstances in which the airline has you check your bag. Should this occur, upon landing in Philadelphia report immediately to the USO. A USO volunteer will assist you in reclaiming your bag from the baggage carousel. DO NOT EXIT THE SECURE SIDE OF THE TERMINALS. 

Whether you fly or are driven to the Philadelphia airport, all recruits must comply with TSA security guidelines regarding liquid products and containers; All recruits must pass through TSA security check points (either in Philadelphia or at their originating airport) to enter the secured side where the USO is located. Any container of liquid in excess of TSA guidelines will be confiscated. 

When you arrive at Cape May, the forming process begins. The goal of forming is to get you ready to train. You'll go through administrative processing. medical and dental screenings, urinalysis*, weigh-in, uniform issue, and males will receive a haircut. On Friday morning you'll be given your physical fitness assessment.**

* Even though some substances, eg. marijuana, may be legal under state laws, a positive urinalysis test for controlled or illegal substances under federal law may be grounds for discharge.

** Failure to meet the physical fitness standards of the bent-knee sit-ups, push ups, and the 1.5 mile run may result in being held in Week 1 until successful completion of the assessment, being placed in physical fitness remedial training, or being discharged.

Company Formation

Week 2

On Friday afternoon you'll be assigned to a recruit training company and meet your Company Commanders. They'll ensure that you overcome the challenges of training and make the transition from civilian to Coast Guardsman. Your first weekend with your company will be a challenging time for you. You'll learn how to act as a member of a team, and how to obey orders. Many recruits find this the most difficult period in recruit basic training. Prepare yourself for this. Remember that the beginning is hard, but you'll quickly learn how to meet the many requirements and challenges placed upon you. Your first order of business is an introduction to physical fitness and required knowledge. You'll start learning military drill, military customs and courtesies, and begin basic Coast Guard orientation. The more general knowledge you can memorize before you arrive for training, the better off you'll be. On Thursday morning you'll be given your swim assessment*.

* Failure to meet the swimming standards will result in being placed in Remedial Swim until successful completion of the swimming standards.

Learning the Basics

Week 3—Week 4 

During the third week of training, instruction will consist of military justice, code of conduct uniforms, ranks and rates, career development, fitness, wellness and quality of life, Coast Guard history, traditions, values, safety, Coast Guard assets and missions, administration and personal finance, watch standing, security, and communications. At the end of the fourth week of training, you'll take the mid-term exam. When you pass this exam, your training will take a significant turn. You'll have the opportunity to submit your preferences for the geographic location of your first assignment. The Coast Guard will then assign you to a unit depending on the needs of the service while attempting to match that need with your location preferences. Rest assured that every non-rate assignment offers the same opportunity for a successful start to your career. 

The Coast Guard has a priority to fill certain billets as follows: Operational Afloat, Operational AshoreOperations Support, and finally General Support. Therefore, the majority of all recruits find their first duty is operational. 

Practical Training

Week 5—Week 6 

Your training during this period will be much more practical and hands-on. You'll learn firefighting and marksmanship. You'll learn about line handling and seamanship, and you'll also continue with classroom instruction. At the end of the fifth training week, you receive orders to your first assignment and things start happening quickly. By this phase of training, you're conducting yourself as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. Your training is progressing through other practical areas, like close order drill and watch standing. Learning about your military entitlements will also prepare you for upcoming travel arrangements and graduation. 

Preparation for Your First Unit

Week 7 

You'll be required to contact your new unit and speak with a designated sponsor who will give you the information you need to ma. a successful transition to your new duty station. You'll continue with classroom instruction that focuses on leadership, first aid and CPR. At the end of this week of training, you'll take the final exam. 


Week 8 

Graduation is the culmination of recruit basic training and a proud moment for the graduates, their families and the Cape May staff. Graduation ceremonies are usually held each Friday morning at 1100. The ceremonies are typically held outdoors in fair weather conditions. In the event of inclement weather and during the winter months, graduations are held in the Cape May gymnasium. Awards that are presented at graduation include but are not limited to Honor Graduate, Leadership, Academic, Most Physically Fit, Best Shipmate, Seamanship, Manual of Arms, Yeoman, and Most Improved Physical Fitness