Naval Station Great Lakes

Updated: September 22, 2023
In this Article

    Near North Chicago, Illinois, Naval Station Great Lakes (NAVSTA Great Lakes) is the Navy’s sole boot camp. Every year, it prepares over 40,000 recruits for naval service. It is Illinois’ largest military installation and the Navy’s main training center. Key commands at the base include the Recruit Training Command, Training Support Center, and Navy Recruiting District Chicago.

    Base Operator:

    2601e Paul Jones Street
    Great Lakes, IL 60088

    What Kind of Base is Naval Station Great Lakes?

    Established in 1904, Naval Station Great Lakes functions as a self-contained city, boasting its fire department, police force, and public works department. It’s also the primary training ground for the Navy, marking the start of service for over two million sailors since its inception.

    Naval Station Great Lakes History

    The Naval Station Great Lakes, established in 1904, is the United States Navy’s only boot camp, located near North Chicago, Illinois. The base, often referred to as “The Quarterdeck of the Navy,” has undergone significant transformations since its inception, including the consolidation of US Navy enlisted recruit training to Great Lakes in 1996. This followed the closure of Naval Training Centers in San Diego and Orlando due to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission of 1993.

    • 1904: The base was approved by Theodore Roosevelt and construction began under the supervision of Navy Captain Albert R. Ross.
    • 1911: The base was officially dedicated by President William Howard Taft. The first recruit, Joseph Gregg, arrived and graduated in the first class of 300.
    • 1996: The base became the Navy’s only basic training facility following the closure of other training centers.
    • 2005: The base underwent a realignment that resulted in the loss of around 2,000 jobs.
    • Present: The base continues to serve as the Navy’s premier technical training command, with an annual throughput of 16,000 Sailors.

    Naval Station Great Lakes Housing

    On-base housing at the Naval Station Great Lakes is available through Hunt Military Communities.

    Off-base there are options and military housing neighborhoods available in the area. To learn more about housing options, contact the Navy Housing Referral Office at 847-688-3440.

    What is the BAH for Naval Station Great Lakes?

    The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) at Naval Station Great Lakes varies depending on rank, years of service and dependency status. Visit the Illinois state BAH page or see the chart below for more information.


    Military Housing Area: IL092

    Grade With Dependents Without Dependents
    E01 $1,884 $1,413
    E02 $1,884 $1,413
    E03 $1,884 $1,413
    E04 $1,884 $1,413
    E05 $1,992 $1,617
    E06 $2,373 $1,779
    E07 $2,499 $1,881
    E08 $2,634 $2,073
    E09 $2,808 $2,181
    W01 $2,394 $1,857
    W02 $2,559 $2,070
    W03 $2,721 $2,193
    W04 $2,844 $2,403
    W05 $2,985 $2,529
    O01E $2,523 $1,986
    O02E $2,697 $2,160
    O03E $2,859 $2,367
    O01 $2,046 $1,767
    O02 $2,370 $1,959
    O03 $2,718 $2,235
    O04 $3,033 $2,502
    O05 $3,255 $2,583
    O06 $3,285 $2,706
    O07 $3,309 $2,748

    For more information, look at BAH rates by state or calculate your exact BAH rate.

    Naval Station Great Lakes Surrounding Area

    Naval Station Great Lakes is situated on the shores of Lake Michigan. It’s between two major metropolitan areas, with Chicago roughly an hour’s drive south and Milwaukee is an hour’s drive north of the base. The surrounding area is rich in both natural beauty and cultural attractions. Chicago and Milwaukee offer a wealth of museums, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the proximity to Lake Michigan and the numerous recreational opportunities it provides.


    On-base medical services are found at James A. Lowell Federal Health Care Center (FHCC) in North Chicago, IL. It’s the Midwest’s sole military medical facility serves primarily active-duty Navy personnel undergoing basic and other service training, members of all seven uniformed services, their DEERS-eligible dependents, and eligible veterans.

    Note: Naval Health Clinic Great Lakes does not offer emergency services. In emergencies, beneficiaries should head to the nearest emergency room.


    The Naval Station Great Lakes offers a variety of childcare options at two of its Child Development Centers (CDCs). These centers provide full-day, part-day, and hourly care services. It offers care for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and includes a school year care program from school-aged children.


    There are no on-base schools at Naval Station Great Lakes as it is mainly a boot camp for the U.S. Navy. There are schooling options for those who work on the base. The best option to learn more about schooling is to call the bases’ School Liaison Office at 847-688-3440.

    Written by Team