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General Knowledge

Recruits in formation

Unlike required knowledge, general knowledge is not expected of you upon arrival at Cape May. However, memorization of these general knowledge topics will be required of you later. We provide these select few general knowledge topics if you choose to study them prior to arriving. 

Chain of Command 

A Chain of Command is a structure of authority and responsibility. It is important that everyone knows their place in the organization, and to whom they have to report. For example, your immediate supervisors are your Company Commanders (CC) and Lead Company Commander (LCC). Their immediate supervisor is the Section Commander (SC), who is the next person in your Chain of Command. This progresses up to our Commander-in-Chief, the President of the United States. Your Chain of Command will be introduced to you during Week 1 of training. 

  • Commander-in-Chief
  • Secretary of Homeland Security
  • Coast Guard Commandant
  • Deputy Commandant for Mission Support
  • Force Readiness Command
  • Commanding Officer (CO)
  • Executive Officer (XO)
  • Training Officer (TO)
  • Regimental Officer (RO)
  • Battalion Officer (BO)
  • Battalion Commander (BC)
  • Assistant Battalion Commander (ABC)
  • Section Commander (SC)
  • Lead Company Commander (LCC)
  • Company Commander (CC)
  • Company Commander (CC)
  • Company Commander (CC)

Other Helpful People to Know 

  • Command Master Chief 
  • Chaplain
  • Equal Opportunity Advisor
  • Sexual Assault Response Coordinator


The following positions are taken only while at a halt. A single person or an entire company may execute them. 


"Attention" is the most basic of all military positions. When you stand at "Attention," you are indicating that you are alert and ready to receive instructions. When called to "Attention: you'll bring the heel of your left foot to the heel of your right foot. At "Attention", you stand straight with your heels together. Your feet will form a 45-degree angle and your head and body will be erect, hips and shoulders level, and your chest will be lifted. Your arms will hang naturally with your thumbs aligned with the seam of your trousers or skirt. Your fingers will be joined and allowed to curl naturally. Your legs will be straight. but do not lock your knees. Your head and eyes should be directed forward. Your mouth should be closed, and your chin should be tucked in slightly. 

Parade Rest 

The command "Parade Rest" is only given when the company or person is at "Attention." In a single movement, bring your left foot out to shoulder width and join your hands, right over left, palms facing away from your body, at the small of your back. 

At Ease 

When given the command "At Ease" the company or person may relax and move about. While "At Ease," your right foot must remain in place. While in this position. you are not allowed to talk. 

Fall Out 

"Fall Out" means you are free to break ranks, but you must remain nearby. When given the command "Fall In," return to your place in ranks and come to "Attention."


There are three facing movements: "Left Face," "Right Face," and "About Face." While executing a facing movement, your arms should remain in the "Attention" position. 

Right or Left Face

Command: "Right Face." At the command "Face," slightly raise the left heel and right toe. Face the right, turn, on the right heel. putting pressure on the ball of the foot and holding the left leg straight. Then place the left foot smartly beside the right one. "Left Face." Similar to the command for "Right Face," except at the command "Face," you'll turn on the heel of your left foot and pivot with the toe of your right foot. 

About Face 

Command: "About Face." At the command "Face," place the toe of the right foot about half-foot to the rear and slightly to the left of the left heel without moving the left foot. Put the weight of the body mainly on the heel of the left foot, right leg strait. Then pivot to the rear, moving to the right on the left heel and the ball of the right foot. Place the right heel beside the left to complete the movement. 


Company leaders have the choice of two commands when they want members to align themselves with each other. The first, "Dress Right, Dress" (normal interval) aligns members at arm's length while the second. "At a Close Interval, Dress Right, Dress" cuts the distance between members In half. 

Dress Right, Dress

On the command "Dress Right, Dress: all company members except the right flank member turn their heads and look a. align themselves to the right. At the same time, each division member except the flank member lifts their left arm shoulder high (normal Interval) or places their left hand on their hip (close interval). The right flank member holds position (stands fast) and looks to the front. The other division members use the right flank member as a guide and take short steps as necessary (stands fast) and looks to the front. The other division members use the right flank member as a guide and take short steps as necessary to align themselves and to achieve the proper interval. Once the alignment is complete, division members hold their position until the "Ready, Front" command is given. At this time, division members, snap back to the "Attention" position.

Customs and Courtesies

The military in general, and the U.S. Coast Guard specifically, rely on many traditions. Passed on from one generation to the next, these customs. courtesies, and ceremonies help foster discipline and good military order. Customs are usual ways of acting in a given situation. A custom is a long-established practice that carries the force of law. Courtesies are actions or words that express consideration and respect for another person. When people treat others with courtesy and respect, it's more likely that they will also be treated with courtesy and respect. 

Hand Salute

The salute is one of the required acts of military courtesy. Regulations covering the salute are deeply embedded in military tradition and custom. The salute shows respect and is a sign of comradeship. There are several types of salutes, including the gun salute and rifle salute, but the most common, and possibly the most important, is the hand salute. The hand salute is a simple, dignified gesture that is rendered to the National Anthem, the U.S. Flag, and Officers. Unless you are walking, the hand salute should be rendered while standing at "Attention."

Raise the right hand and bending your arm at the elbow, until the tip of your forefingers touches the lower part of your cover just above and to the right of your right eye. Fingers are extended and aligned with the thumb. With the elbow slightly in front of your body, your upper arm should be parallel with the deck. The hand and wrist must be held in a straight line and the forearm should be at a 45-degree angle. Returning the arm to its normal position at your side completes the salute. This motion is done in one sharp, clean motion. 

Salute properly and smartly. A sharp salute is a mark of a sharp recruit. Always use your right hand. Use your left hand to carry objects and leave your right hand free to salute. Accompany your salute with a proper greeting, e.g., "Good morning, Sir/Ma'am," "Good afternoon, Commander Smith," "Good evening. Chaplain Jones." Always salute from the position of "Attention." If you are walking. you need not stop, but hold yourself erect and square. If double timing, slow to a walk when saluting. Look directly into the Officer's eyes as you salute. Salute all Officers who are close enough to be recognized as Officers. Render a verbal greeting if you are carrying something in both hands and cannot render the hand salute. Salute Officers even if they are uncovered or their hands are occupied. Your salute will be acknowledged by the Officer's salute. so continue to hold your salute until the officer drops his or her salute. It is at that point that you shall carry on.

Recruit Communications

When Asked a Yes or No Question

Proper Recruit Response: Yes or No, followed by the person's title and name.
"Yes, Petty Officer Smith."

When Asked an Open-Ended Question

Proper Recruit Response: Person's title and name, followed by recruit's title and name, followed by the answer.
"Petty Officer Smith, Seaman Recruit Park, the Commandant is Admiral __________."

Providing Unsolicited Information

Proper Recruit Response: Person's title and name, followed by Recruit's title and name, followed by "I request to inform you," followed by the information.
"Petty Officer Smith, Seaman Recruit Park, I request to inform you the shower is broken and won't turn off."

Requesting Permission

Proper Recruit Response: Person's title and name, followed by Recruit's title and name, followed by "I request permission to..."
"Petty Officer Smith, Seaman Recruit Park, I request permission to see the Chaplain."

Repeat a Statement or Directions

Proper Recruit Response: Person's title and name, followed by Recruit's Title and Name, followed by "I request you say again your last."
"Petty Officer Smith, Seaman Recruit Park, I request you say again your last."

Telling Time

"Petty Officer Smith, Seaman Recruit Park, Regimental Sunset is Fourteen Thirty."

1403 = fourteen zero three
0145 = zero one forty-give
0830 = zero eight thirty
1000 = ten hundred
1700 = seventeen hundred
0003 = zero zero zero three

When Receiving an Order

Proper Recruit Response: Aye Ayre, followed by the person's title and name.
"Aye Aye, Petty Officer Smith."

Proper Way to Disregard a Previous Statement

Proper Recruit Response: Belay my last, Petty Officer Smith, followed by start the statement over.
"Petty Officer Smith, Seaman Recruit Park, The Commandant is Chief Krug. Belay My Last. Petty Officer Smith, Seaman Recruit Park, the Commandant is Admiral __________."

Requesting Information

Proper Recruit's Response: Person's Title and Name, followed by Recruit's Title and Name, followed by "I request to know..."

"Petty Officer Smith, Seaman Recruit Park, I request to know what time graduation practice begins."

When Passing By a Staff Member in Close Proximity

(When recruits are passing within one arm's length of a staff member and no alternate route exists)

Proper Recruit Response: Person's Title and Name, followed by Recruit's Title and Name, followed by "I request permission to pass by"

"Petty Officer Smith, Seaman Recruit Park, I request permission to pass by."

A Staff Member Calls a Recruit or Identifies the Recruit, But Doesn't Know the Recruit's Name

Proper Recruit Response:
Recruit's last name "Aye" person calling them

CC states, "Park" or "Recruit"
Recruit states, "Park, Aye, Petty Officer Smith."

Recruits Do Not Verbally Respond to the Following

Do not respond if the staff member provides the following statements:

"Carry On", "As You Were", "Recover", "Fall In", "Very Well", "Fix It"


Morning Colors

At 0755 hours, the PREP pennant is raised to the top of the crossarm when “First Call" is sounded. At 0800 the PREP pennant is lowered to half-mast when "Attention" is sounded. At the beginning of the music, the national ensign is hoisted quickly and smartly to the peak or truck. Additionally, at the beginning of the music all recruits will face the national ensign and stand at the position of attention. Covered recruits will render a salute, uncovered recruits (in Physical Fitness Gear) will cover their hearts. When the music stops, all recruits return to the position of attention. When "Carry On" Is sounded, signaling the end of colors, the PREP pennant is lowered all the way down, and recruits carry on with the plan of the day. 

Evening Colors

At evening colors (sunset), the procedure is the same as morning colors, except the national ensign shall be lowered at the start of the music and lowered slowly so that it is hauled all the way down at the end of the music. 

Rank Structure

Enlisted Grade Structure

SR Seaman Recruit E-1
SA Seaman Apprentice/Fireman Apprentice E-2
SN Seaman/Fireman E-3

Non-Commissioned Officer Grade Structure

PO3 Petty Officer Third Class E-4
PO2 Petty Officer Second Class E-5
PO1 Petty Officer First Class E-6
CPO Chief Petty Officer E-7
SCPO Senior Chief Petty Officer E-8
MCPO Master Chief Petty Officer E-9
MCPOCG Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard E-9

Warrant Officer Grade Structure

CWO-2 Chief Warrant Officer 2 W-2
CWO-3 Chief Warrant Officer 3 W-3
CWO-4 Chief Warrant Officer 4 W-4

Officer Grade Structure

ENS Ensign O-1
LTJG Lieutenant Junior Grade O-2
LT Lieutenant O-3
LCDR Lieutenant Commander O-4
CDR Commander O-5
CAPT Captain O-6
RDML Rear Admiral O-7
RADM Rear Admiral O-8
VADM Vice Admiral O-9
ADM Admiral O-10

Enlisted Ratings

Abbreviation Rate Name
AET Avionics Electrical Technician
AMT Aviation Maintenance Technician
AST Aviation Survival Technician
BM Boatswain’s Mate
CS Culinary Specialist
DC Damage Controlman
DV Diver
EM Electrician’s Mate
ET Electronics Technician
GM Gunner’s Mate
HS Health Services Technician
IS Intelligence Specialist
IT Information Systems Technician
IV Investigator (Reserve only)
ME Maritime Enforcement Specialist
MK Machinery Technician
MST Marine Science Technician
MU Musician
OS Operations Specialist
PA Public Affairs Specialist
SK Storekeeper
YN Yeoman


ADRIFT: Loose from moorings (applied to anything lost, out of hand, or left lying about)

AFT: Near or toward the stern of the vessel 

ALOFT: Above the vessel's uppermost solid structure (overhead or high above)

ALONGSIDE: By the side of the pier or vessel 

ALL HANDS /MUSTER/QUARTERS: Assembly fall hands for accountability

AVAST/BELAY: To cancel an order; to cease 

AYE-AYE: Reply to an order (I understand and will comply)

BARRACKS: Building where military personnel live

BELOW: Beneath the deck (downstairs)

BOW: The front of the ship

BRIGHTWORK: Brass or shiny metal kept polished rather than painted

BROW: A moveable ladder used for boarding a vessel from a pier


BULKHEAD: A partition or "wall" on a vessel 

CARRY ON: An order to resume work or duties 

CAST OFF: To throw oft to let go; to unfurl

COLORS: Raising or lowering of a national flag; ceremonies held at 0800 and sunset 


DECK: Floor

EYES IN THE BOAT: Looking straight ahead while at position of attention

FAST: Snugly secured

FORE: Towards the bow of the vessel

GALLEY: The cooking compartment or kitchen on a vessel 

GANGWAY: Opening in a bulwark/ lifeline that provides access to a brow; an order meaning to clear the way

GEAR LOCKER: Storage room 

HEAD: Bathroom


LIBERTY: Permission to leave the base 

MAST: The vertical structure from a vessel that holds rigging for flags and pennants, electronic equipment, and the National Ensign while underway; the flagpole at a shore-based unit

MESS DECK: The compartment where enlisted personnel eat

OFFICER OF THE DAY/DECK(000) The officer who acting directly under the commanding officer is responsible on an assigned day/watch for overseeing the unit/vessel, preserving order, protecting property, and enforcing regulations



PERFORMANCE TRACKER: Recruit progress documentation slip

PORT: Referring to the left side of a vessel when seen by someone facing the bow 

QUARTERDECK: Area between squad bays; location where inport vessels and shore units stand watch 

REVEILLE: Wake up; start a new day

SCULLERY: Compartment for washing and sterilizing dishes

SCUTTLEBUTT: Drinking fountain; a rumor

SECURE: Lock; put away or stop work

SICKBAY: Hospital or medical clinic

STARBOARD: Referring to the right side of a vessel when seen by someone facing the bow 

STERN: The back of the vessel

STRIKE: Lower or bring down


TAPS: Time to sleep; end of day

TOPSIDE: Upstairs

TURN TO: An order to begin work

UNDERWAY: When a vessel is not tied to a pier or at anchor

WATCH: A period of duty 

Additional Information

Recruit Leadership

The Coast Guard needs good leaders at all levels. Even as a recruit you'll have the opportunity to step up and take a leadership role. Leadership is the practical application of the Coast Guard's core values—so put what you've learned to work. You'll be challenged, and your hard work will be noticed. 

Squad Leaders are appointed by their Company Commanders and have the authority and responsibility in the company to preserve good order, discipline and security. 

Recruit Historians are responsible for documenting the company's progress through recruit basic training on social media for friends and families to read. 

Recruit Watch Coordinators coordinate the respective watches that the company stands. 

Company Yeomen are responsible for performing general clerical duties in the company and assisting Company Commanders with the reports, records, class attendance rosters, medical waivers, and recruit performance trackers. 

Recruit Laundry Detail is responsible for executing proper laundry handling procedures. 

Recruit Religious Petty Officers attend weekly meetings with the Chaplain, lead company prayers, and work in the chapel. 

Recruit Physical Fitness Petty Officers are responsible for leading company stretches a. workouts. 

Company Mail Orderlies are responsible for the pick-up and delivery of all mail. 

The Recruit Band seeks recruits that have the ability to play musical instruments for graduation and off-base events. 

The Recruit Choir requires no prior experience. All are welcome to participate. 

The Recruit Drill Team requires no prior experience. All are welcome to participate. 

Counseling Resources

The training program is very strenuous. This, combined with the challenge of separation from family and friends, sometimes creates a need for recruits to seek counseling. There are several people you can see to discuss your needs. The first person you should talk to is your Company Commander. They have had a lot of experience dealing with issues and problems just like yours. If you feel uncomfortable discussing the problem with them. you can make an appointment to see a Chaplain or another counseling resource. These resources include a staff psychiatrist, equal opportunity advisor, social worker, and staff nurse. Appointments to see these people are made through your Company Commander. The important thing to remember is that you are not alone and someone will always be there for you. 

Religious Services

Many people find religious services to be a good way to ease the pressures of training. The training center chapel is staffed by both Catholic and Protestant Chaplains and has services every Sunday morning. Arrangements will be made for you to attend other types of religious services if available in the community. as long as there is no conflict with your regularly scheduled training. 

Medical Resources 

The training center dispensary provides medical services delivered by physicians, a physical therapy department, a dental clinic, optometry services, and a psychiatrist. They serve recruits and active duty personnel with mild to moderate illnesses, including overnight treatment. Emergency room services are available at local hospitals if needed. 

Liberty at Cape May

Liberty is time off from recruit basic training. It can be limited to Training Center grounds only, or your company may earn off-base liberty. Liberty is a privilege that is earned and not automatically given to everyone. If you do not meet all required academic and physical fitness requirements you'll not normally be afforded liberty. Remember that while on liberty, you represent the Coast Guard and the consumption of alcohol is not permitted.

Relationships with Other Personnel

Recruits are required to report any incident involving inappropriate relations. Failure to report an incident is considered a punishable offense. 

Recruits may not socialize with: 

  • Cape May staff (non-recruit military and civilian personnel).
  • Recruits in other companies not in the same week of training. 

Inappropriate relationships include: 

  • Repeated or continued association, discussions (including ones of a professional nature)* and sexual or amorous relations between recruits and Cape May staff.
  • Non-professional association with recruits from other companies not in the same week of training unless specifically directed by Cape May staff.
  • Any sexual or amorous associations or discussions between recruits. 

* These discussions may be perceived as an inappropriate relationship because of the frequency of the discussions. 

Family Information

Coast Guard Family

As a member of the Coast Guard, you become part of our "extended family," and so do your family members. Many members of the Coast Guard are often following a family tradition. but some are the first Coast Guard members in their family. Whether you are new to the organization or not, it's vital that you pass along important information to your family. How you support your immediate family, how you continue to fulfill your responsibilities to them are an important part of your military life. 

Dependent ID Cards

If you have dependents. you'll fill out the application for Dependent ID Card once you arrive. The application and letter explaining the procedure will be mailed to your spouse/dependent. They will take the application to the nearest ID card issuing military installation and get a dependent ID card. If they're unable to get to a military installation prior to your graduation, your dependent may get a card issued either at Cape May (following graduation) or at your first duty station. 

Telephone Calls

Upon arriving to Cape May, a scripted phone call will be made by the recruit to one individual back home stating they arrived safely to recruit basic training and to pass that information along to others. In addition. a letter will be sent to your family to let them know you arrived safely. During recruit basic training, you may NOT receive personal calls, therefore you may want to contact your family and friends when you arrive at the Philadelphia USO. Office phones at Cape May are for conducting official business only. Phone use can be granted by your company Commander only in later weeks of training. Recruits are authorized use of their personal cell phones if granted on or off-base liberty. 

Emergency Contact Telephone Calls

In the case of an emergency, your family should contact their local American Red Cross office. 


Mail is delivered to Cape May Monday through Friday. Due to the volume of mail received, it may take longer than normal for mail to reach your recruit. Company mail orderlies pick up mail at a time set by the Company Commander and return it to the Company Commander for inspection. Any suspicious looking letters or packages will be opened by your recruit in the presence of their Company Commander.

Contraband items are seized. Please see a list on page 25 so you know what may not be sent. Outgoing mail from recruit basic training is picked up twice a day. Recruits should prepare pre-addressed, stamped envelopes at home to maximize letter writing time. 

Mailing Address:

SR _________________
USCG Training Center
1 Munro Avenue
Cape May, NJ 08204-5083 

Work-Life Program

The Coast Guard's work-life program is managed by the Office of Work-Life, a Headquarters program manager staff within the health, safety and work-life directorate, reporting to the Assistant Commandant for Human Resources. This staff is responsible for establishing, developing and promulgating work-life policy and interpreting program standards for Coast Guard-wide implementation. The overall objective is to support the well-being of active duty, reserve and civilian employees and family members. 


855.CGSUPRT (855.247.8778)
or visit 

Online Resources 

Training Center Cape May:
Facebook: @USCoastGuardBootCarnp 

Coast Guard Recruiting:
YouTube: GoCoastGuard 

U.S. Coast Guard:
Facebook: @USCoastGuard
Twitter/Instagram: @USCG 

Direct Entry Petty Officer Training

Depot Recruits Only


The mission of the Direct Entry Petty Officer Training (DEPOT) Course is to produce petty officers who, on the basis of their past prior service or who meet the requirements of one of our reserve petty officer programs, will graduate as highly motivated and basically trained members ready to assume the duties and responsibilities of their pay grade. 


This is an accelerated course with similar standards as the 8-week program. Training will consist of instruction and practical experience in military courtesies, drills and ceremonies, military justice, code of conduct, leadership and supervision, seamanship, uniforms, ranks and rates, career development, first aid and survival, fitness, wellness and quality of life, Coast Guard history, traditions, and values, safety, damage control, small arms, Coast Guard assets and missions, administration and personal finance, watch standing, security, and communications. Cape May will prepare orders to their first unit, issue ID cards, arrange household goods moves, and provide access to travel agent for flight arrangements. The physical fitness and swim assessments will be conducted early in training. The standards are listed on page 16. Training will be held 7 days a week,12-16 hours each day. Members will have limited access to phones, but will be allowed to make calls for family and business requirements periodically. No cellular phones are allowed during training. Advanced travel, DLA, and pay may be authorized to assist members and families with travel. 

Know Before You Arrive

Know these items before you arrive to Cape May: 

  1. All Required Knowledge and General Knowledge
  2. U.S. Coast Guard Ethos 

What to Expect

In order to meet the mission of the course, your days will be long. The training is well organized, with a professional staff of Company Commanders and instructors whose main goal is to assist you in successfully completing the course. Reveille is at 0530 and Taps is at 2200 - a typical day consists of academic classes, hands on practical training, evening fitness or workbook sessions, and personal "square-away" time. You'll be expected to maintain training standards for your uniform, squad bay, classroom, and behavior. Uniform and squad bay inspections are routinely conducted throughout training. You'll be given an initial physical fitness and a swim assessment during your first week of training and will participate in a fitness program. You'll be formed as a company to promote teamwork, pride, and unit discipline, while marching to and from class. The company will be berthed in a squad bay. 

* If you fail to meet graduation standards for any reason, you may be given the option to complete your training with a senior company in the 8-week program. If you decline that option, you'll be discharged from the Coast Guard.

What to Bring

The following items are in addition to what is listed on pages 24-25. 

Required Paperwork:

  • Birth certificate 

Miscellaneous Items:

  • $200.00 spending cash for miscellaneous purchases. You'll make one trip to the Exchange at which you should be prepared to pay for ditty bag items. Additionally, you should be prepared to purchase other authorized necessary items you did not bring.
  • Prior service personnel: Bring ribbons, badges, insignias and documentation/ verification if available. 

Physical Fitness

You must arrive to Cape May ready to pass a physical fitness assessment. Due to the short duration of the course, limited remedial physical fitness training is available. If you do not currently work out, you'll need to start. You must arrive ready to pass a swim test. Due to the short duration of the course, limited remedial swim training is available. If you are a poor swimmer, you'll need to get into a swim program prior to arrival. 

* If you fall to meet graduation standards. you are given the option to complete your training with a senior company in the 8-week program. If you decline that option you'll be discharged from the Coast Guard. 

Travel Information 

When making travel arrangements, plan to arrive at the Philadelphia airport no later than 1600 on the start date of the class. Upon arrival at the Philadelphia International Airport, all DEPOT recruits must report immediately to the USO office located in the secure side (not the ticket counter side) of the airport. Follow airport signs or ask a TSA agent for the location of the USO. DO NOT EXIT THE SECURE SIDE OF THE TERMINALS. A USO volunteer will be at the office to assist you with any questions that you have. The USO has a variety of foods available. If your flight is late, you'll not ma. it to the USO by 1600, or if you have any other problems, contact Cape May at 609.898.6971 and then your recruiter. You'll travel to Cape May from the Philadelphia International Airport via commercial bus. These arrangements are coordinated between the USO and the Coast Guard. Transportation for late arrivals will be provided at 0800 Monday morning; you'll stay at the USO on Sunday night