Direct Entry Petty Officer

Congratulations on your orders to attend the Coast Guard’s Direct Entry Petty Officer Training Course (DEPOT) in Cape May, New Jersey. We look forward to your arrival and offer you the challenge of DEPOT designed specifically to provide you with the skill sets to serve America in the United States Coast Guard. Welcome Aboard! 


The goal of the Direct Entry Petty Officer Training Course is to produce petty officers who on the basis of their civilian professions, prior military experience, or a combination of both, will graduate as highly motivated and basically trained members ready to assume the duties and responsibilities of their pay grade.


This course is 20 days in duration with students arriving on Sunday evening and graduating on a Thursday. 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.  TRACEN Cape May will prepare orders to first unit, issue ID cards, arrange household goods moves, and provide access to travel agent for flight arrangements. The physical fitness assessment and swim assessment will be conducted during the first week of training. The standards are listed on page 19 of the Helmsman. Training will be held 7 days per week, 12-16 hours per day. Members will have limited access to pay 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.  


Meet the minimum Coast Guard medical requirements and have achieved a minimum AFQT score of 45.  Meet accession standards and have qualifying past prior service or meet the requirements of one of our reserve petty officer programs.

Know Before You Arrive

By knowing these items before you arrive to Cape May, you will be better equipped to start training.

  • 1. (11) General Orders
  • 2. United States Coast Guard Ethos   
  • 3. Military Time
  • 4. Phonetic Alphabet.

What to Expect

Tough, challenging and rewarding training.  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 will 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 will be given an initial physical fitness and a swim assessment during your first week of training and will participate in a fitness program. You will be formed as a company to promote teamwork, pride, and unit discipline, while marching to and from class. The company will be berthed (living) in a squad bay.  Graduation is formal and visitors are welcome. Read the Helmsman for more information.

What to Bring

Cape May is located at the Southern part of New Jersey and experiences cold winters and hot summers. Dress appropriately. You will be issued a complete set of uniforms, three sets of physical fitness gear, a pair of sweats, swim suit and running shoes. In general bring minimal civilian attire - enough to report aboard and travel home. During the winter months bring a warm jacket and gloves to hold you over until you receive your uniforms. Read the Helmsman for more information

Required Paperwork

  • Birth certificate
  • Drivers license
  • SSN card

Hygiene Items

  • You will need to bring toiletry items including a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, deodorant, shaving cream, and a razor.
  • You will need a spit kit to keep your toiletry items in but if you do not bring one you will have the opportunity to purchase one at the CG Exchange.
  • Women should bring plain barrettes (gold or brown), bobby pins or elastic bands, and hair gel.

Clothing Items

  • Dress appropriate for the season (i.e. warm jacket and gloves in the winter)
  • White V-neck tee shirts are required for men and optional for women—bring 2 or 3
  • Underpants are required—bring at least 6 pair
  • Bras are required for women—bring at least 6 bras (white or flesh tone, or sports bras)
  • Long underwear is optional during the winter months - (blue only)

Miscellaneous Items

  • Spending cash for exchange purchases. On base there is an ATM machine available
  • You will make 'one' trip to the CG Exchange at which time you should be prepared to pay $200.02 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 will need to start. First, assess yourself against the standards. If you need improvement, develop a physical fitness regime that includes pushups, sit-ups, running 1.5 miles, and hamstring stretches to increase your flexibility. Read the Helmsman for the PF standards. 

Swim Test

You must arrive to Cape May 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 will need to get into a swim program prior to arrival. Your recruiter should be able to make specific recommendations for your local area. The test consists of jumping off a 1.5 meter platform while in the “cross and cover” position and returning to the surface unaided. After you surface unaided you must swim 100 meters using various strokes except for the butterfly or underwater stroke in 5 minutes. The last test is treading water unaided for 5 minutes.  No goggles are permitted during the swim test.

Grooming Standards 

Hair will be neat, clean, and present a groomed appearance. Eccentric styles or colors may not be worn while in uniform or in a duty status. Varying hair styles are permitted provided these styles meet the criteria of bulk and do not interfere with the proper wearing of military headgear. Bulk is defined as the distance that the mass of the hair protrudes from the scalp when groomed (as opposed to the length of the hair).

Men: You will get your hair cut while in training, your hair will be shaved bald in the first week of training.  After graduation you hair will be kept so that the bulk of the hair is less than 1 1/2 inch. The hair must not touch the ear or fall below the eyebrows, and the back length of the hair cannot touch the collar. Hair must be smoothly tapered from the lower hairline upward on all sides. Hair shall not be visible below the front brim or visor when covered and shall not be blocked or square cut.

Women: The bulk of the hair must be less than 2 inches. Hair cannot fall below the lower edge of the collar and it cannot extend below the eyebrows. Hair bands should be a plain cloth elasticized band similar in color to the member’s hair color. Hair will be clean and neatly arranged.  Back of the hair may touch but not fall below the lower edge of the collar. Hair shall not show under the front brim of the cap, and shall not extend below the eyebrows when headgear is removed.  Afro, natural, bouffant, and other similar hairstyles are permitted, but exaggerated styles, including those with excess fullness or extreme height, are not authorized.

Travel Information

When making travel arrangements, plan to arrive at the Philadelphia airport no later than 1600 on the start date of the class. Report to the USO, (located in Terminal E-East, Gate 6-A. Look for USO signs). Bus transportation from the Philadelphia airport to Training Center Cape May will depart sharply at 1900. If you encounter any problems, or miss the bus departure, call the Training Center at (609) 898-6915 and ask for the Officer of the Day (OOD). Transportation for late arrivals will be provided at 0800 Monday morning. Stay at the USO on Sunday night.


Address While In Training:
Last Name, First
Direct Entry Petty Officer Training Program XX-XX
Munro Hall
1 Munro Ave
Cape May, NJ 08204