Base Closing Index


Naval Training Center
Public Affairs Office
33502 Decatur Road, Suite 120
San Diego, CA 92133-1449
Phone: (619) 524-4210 Fax: (619) 524-4213



Naval Training Center to Disestablish

After 74 Years of History

By JOC(SW) Mary Camacho

In 1923, the first recruits walked onto the newly commissioned property of Naval Training Center, San Diego, ready to serve their country and learn all they could about the Navy. It had taken almost 10 years to bring Navy training to San Diego, but once Sailors arrived, they had an astounding presence here for some 74 years. This era is now coming to an end. On March 21, 1997, NTC will hold its final ceremony, one that will formally disestablish the base as a Naval installation.

NTC was primarily comprised of two major component commands: Recruit Training Command (RTC) and Service School Command (SSC). When one thinks of NTC, one generally thinks of boot camp, and it's easy to understand why. Many recruit's lives began here. From 1923 to 1993, all aspects of training--from shipboard handling to basic seamanship to marching were taught at RTC. Millions of Sailors marched on NTC land and on Nov. 19, 1993, company 215 graduated in the 2,082nd and final pass-in-­review. The first component command was gone.

Following basic training, most recruits remained at NTC to continued their military education in the particular field they would use in the fleet at Service School Command. SSC began with only four Navy schools in the 1920s and 1930s: Cooks and Bakers, Sound School, Bugler and Radio Operator.

As the century progressed, so did Navy education. By the 1940s, there were 40 courses and a student average population of 8,000 at SSC. By the 1950s, SSC offered nuclear power education and courses via closed-circuit television which enabled 2,000 Sailors to be trained simultaneously.

Advanced technology and a Navy of highly complex and sophisticated ships permitted SSC to develop technically qualified, academically proficient and professionally focused Sailors throughout the 1980s and 1990s. But on Dec. 20, 1996, SSC was disestablished; now NTC's second major component command came was gone. It's now NTC's turn.

On March 21, more than 1,000 people will witness the disestablishment of NTC. The ceremony will be held at Ingram Plaza at 2 p.m. where numerous VIPs and dignitaries will be in attendance, including Vice Adm. Patricia Ann Tracey, Chief of Naval Education and Training; the Honorable William Cassidy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy; Byron Wear, 2nd District San Diego councilmember; and former center commanders. The ceremony is free to the general public. Visitors are asked arrive early to ensure parking. Souvenirs and memorabilia will be available for purchase from Morale, Welfare and Recreation. For more information, call the NTC Public Affairs Office at 524-4210.

NTC Facts and Trivia

Naval Training Center San Diego first established in Balboa Park, following the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1917.

Naval Training Center was originally established as a Naval Training Station in 1923 at its present site on 227 acres of land.

Congress originally authorized $1,000,000 to begin building the center. Construction began on June 4, 1921. Bertrand Grosvenor Goodhue (1869-1924) was the architect of NTC's historic district buildings.

Commissioned on June 1, 1923, NTS was officially dedicated on October 27, 1923 (Navy Day). Capt. David Foote Sellers (later Rear Admiral) was the station's first commanding officer.

The original site consisted of many acres of highlands and marshlands.

On June 15, 1923, 350 students and 65 instructors arrived from Goat Island Training Station to start the first training at Naval Training Station. Originally only four courses were taught including preliminary radio, yeoman, bugler, and band.

By 1929, some of the schools were: Cooks and Bakers, Sound School, Buglemaster, Musician, Radio Operator, GyroCompass, and Stenography.

From 1923 to 1932, recruits lived in walled tents in an area known as Camp Ingram. Recruit training was 16 weeks long during this timeframe, compared to seven weeks during World War II, 11 weeks during the Korean and Vietnam eras and eight and one half weeks in 1993.

In 1939, a massive construction program was begun to increase the station's capacity by filling the acres of marshland.

World War II prompted an emergency construction program of the station. Nearly 300 temporary woodframe and stucco buildings were built to house the mobilization of new recruits.

For the first time since commissioning, the base was closed to the public following the Pearl Harbor attack, Dec. 7, 1941. The gates were closed and civilians were not permitted access to any training or graduation ceremonies. The base newspaper was censored regarding war and security procedures.

Recruit Training decreased after World War II. New Technical Training Schools were added to the training center complex.

Recruit training peaked during Korea with 25,000 assigned recruits per 11 weeks cycle.

By the end of the Korean War, NTC encompassed more than twice its original size. Camp Nimitz was developed to house the initial phases of recruit training in 1953.

The Camp Nimitz Bridge was originally constructed in 1952 and 1953 at a cost of $70,000. By 1968, as many as 4,500 recruits were berthed at Camp Nimitz at any one time and 50,000 recruits were graduating every year. SSC had 28,000 students enrolled annually.

The first female commanding officer of SSC was Capt. Robin Quigley on May 15, 1973.

Only two presidents have visited NTC in its history: President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Sept. 25, 1942 and President Gerald Ford in 1975. California Governor Ronald Reagan visited the center for its 50th anniversary in 1973.

In April, 1994, the Secretary of the Navy changed the status of the training station from a unit command to a group command and redesignated it the U.S. Naval Training Center, under the command of a commandant, and subsequently, a commander.

The most recognizable training aid at NTC was the USS Recruit (TDE-1) a two-thirds scale mockup of a Destroyer Escort. Built in 1949, this San Diego landmark provided recruits training in simulated shipboard drills and exercises, as well as proper shipboard procedures.

USS Recruit was decommissioned on March 7, 1967, after a computer program could not classify the ship as an active vessel.

The ship underwent an overhaul in 1982 and was redesignated as TFFG-1 (training guided missile fast frigate).

The last company to graduate from RTC was company 215 in the 2,082nd pass-in-review on Nov. 19, 1993.

The last Radioman students graduated on Sept. 5, 1996 and SSC formally disestablished on Dec. 20, 1996.

More than 1,750,000 recruits and 1,000,000 "A" and "C" School Sailors graduated from the Naval Training Center over the years.

The Naval Training Center received numerous awards over the last seven decades. The Center has received numerous Golden Anchor and Silver Anchor awards for retaining naval personnel in the service, Bronze Hammer awards for self-help program excellence and the Edward F. Ney Award for running the Navy's top large galley.

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