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History Of Recruit Training Center
San Diego, CA
The Naval Training Center, San Diego, began construction on 135 acres of highland and 142 acres of tideland, donated by the City of San Diego, in 1921. On 1 June 1923, the U.S. Naval Training Station, San Diego, was placed in commission under the command of Captain (later Rear Admiral) David F. Sellers, U.S. Navy.

At the time of its commissioning in 1923 the station bore little resemblance to its size or arrangement during my training period in 1962. At that time Camp Paul Jones housed the entire population of the station and the maximum recruit strength was 1,500. The period of recruit training was then sixteen weeks. The shore line of San Diego Bay extended considerably further inland than at present, and the land now occupied by Preble Field, the North Athletic Area and Camp Farragut was entirely underwater. The recruit parade ground was located on the present site of the Public Works garage. During the 1920's the Recruit Receiving and Outgoing Units were housed in the Detention Unit, known as Camp Ingram, which consisted of a group of walled tents adjacent to the south boundary of Camp Paul Jones. Until Camp Lawrence was completed in 1936, recruits spent their first three weeks of training under canvas in this Detention Unit.

In 1939 a construction program was commenced which within three years was to increase the capacity of the station four-fold. This expansion went hand in glove with a large scale program of harbor improvements by means of of which the channel and anchorages in San Diego bay were deepened and 130 acres of filled land were added to the eastern boundaries of the station. By 1941 Camp Luce had been completed, and the construction of Camps Mahan, Decatur, and Farragut was already well under way when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Virtually all this construction work was completed by September, 1942, when the capacity of the station had reached its wartime peak of 33,000 men, 25,000 of whom were recruits. The period of recruit training during World War II varied between three weeks and seven weeks.

In April, 1944, the Secretary of the Navy changed the status of the Training Station to that of a group command and redesignated it the U.S. Naval Training Center, San Diego. Under the Center Commander were established three subordinate commands: The Recruit Training Command, The Service School Command, and the Administrative Command.

The years immediately following World War II saw a considerable reduction in population of the Training Center despite a post-war expansion of the Service Schools, and by the end of 1949 the population of the Center had dropped to a twenty year low of 5,800 men. Six months later, when the Communists invaded the Republic of Korea, an immediate expansion of all Naval training activities took place and by September of 1950 the Center was again operating at nearly full capacity.

During the early months of the Korean conflict it became apparent that the demand for trained personnel in the rapidly growing Pacific Fleet would require further expansion of this training center. Accordingly steps were taken by the Navy Department to reactivate Camp Elliott, formerly a World War II Marine Corps training camp which is located ten miles north of San Diego on Kearny Mesa. On 15 January 1951 Camp Elliott was placed in commission as Elliott Annex of the Naval Training Center for the purpose of conducting the primary phases of recruit training. In March 1953, in line with the planned reduction in size of the Navy, training at Elliott Annex was discontinued and it was placed in an inactive status. During its two years of operation, over 150,000 recruits received training there.

Late in 1952 projects were approved to convert some recruit barracks into classrooms and to extend training facilities by construction of a permanent recruit camp on the undeveloped Training Center land lying to the south and east of the estuary. The six converted barracks went into service as recruit classrooms in April, 1953, and construction work on the new camp was completed in 1955. With the completion of this project the Naval Training Center filled out to its present boundaries of 435 acres.

The largest of the three commands at the Training Center is the Recruit Training Command. Here the recruit undergoes his transition from civilian to military life; learns the history, traditions, customs and regulations of his chosen service; and receives instruction in naval skills and subjects which will be basic information throughout his period of naval service. Most of the facilities of the Recruit Training Command are centered on Bainbridge Court and occupy the western half of the Training Center. Here are concentrated the barracks and headquarters of the recruit brigade, and nearby are located the mess halls, classrooms, athletic fields and recreation buildings used by the recruits.

USS Recruit TDE-1

It was the first of its kind -- not quite 'building, not quite a ship. USS Recruit (TDE-1 and TFFG-1) the Navy's first non-ship, was originally a commissioned vessel and observed traditional Naval shipboard procedures like all other vessels. Any Sailor who ever served duty on board this haze gray ship awash in concrete, fondly remembers his first 'request permission to come aboard.

Affectionately known as USS Neversail, the Recruit was a two-thirds scale mock-up and served as a Sea Daddy to new recruits. When completed in 1949, it was 225 long, had a 24-foot, four inch beam and a 41-foot mast.

During construction, Sailors in NTC's seamanship division supervised the rigging with standard Navy fittings obtained from salvage and mothballed ships. The Recruit was commissioned Rear Adm. Wilder D. Baker, commandant, Eleventh Naval District, on July 27, 1'949. A commission pennant was broken and the ensign and Union Jack was hoisted.

It served as a school for all recruits going through basic seamanship indoctrination. The ship's deck was an exact replica of what a Sailor could expect in the fleet. The Recruit had cleats, chocks nd mooring lines and operated as any standard Navy ship. Sailors learned rnarlinspike seamanship, ground tackle operation, cargo booms, deck fittings, lift boat handling and signal equipment.

Besides the regular classrooms, a company of recruits would stay on board from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. each night to polish watchstanding skills.

 

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