Preserving San Diego's Naval Heritage


Naval Training Center

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A brief NTC history is below. "Cradle of the Navy" a book produced by JOC Mary Camacho celebrating the history of NTC can be viewed by clicking here! Receiving and Outfitting
The place where every enlisted Sailor starts their naval career! It's also the beginning of basic orientation and organization training (BOOT) Camp. Now posted is a 1950's summary of boot camp.

Click on the picture or HERE to see the booklet.

The Last Staff

Names of the staff members who remained at the final months of Naval Training Center, Service School Command and Recruit Training Command can be found here.

front_gate.jpg (48025 bytes)The Naval Training Center, San Diego had its inception in 1916 when Mr. William Kettner, Congressman from the Eleventh Congressional District of California and spokesman for the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, interested the Honorable Franklin D. Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, in establishing a naval training activity on the shores of San Diego Bay. Due to the Nation's entry into World War I, further development of permanent site plan was postponed until 1919, when Congress authorized acceptance by the Navy of the present site of the Training Center. However in 1917 the City of San Diego made way for a temporary Naval Training Station. The station at Balboa Park ensured the a permanent naval training installation in San Diego.  The original grant for the permanent site consisted of 135 acres of highland donated by the San Diego Chamber of Commerce and 142 acres of tideland given by the City of San Diego. Construction work began in 1921, and 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 present size or arrangement.NTC in the 1920's.jpg (79409 bytes) 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 under water. 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 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 11 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 hadUSS_Recruit.jpg (29044 bytes) 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 tortc_1955.jpg (32384 bytes) 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.

In the furtherance of its mission of supplying trained naval personnel to the fleets and ships of the United States Navy, each of the three subordinate commands of the Naval Training Center has important roles to fill.

The Administrative Command has the responsibility of conducting most of the Center's new-8.gif (11663 bytes)administrative business and furnishing a wide range of services necessary to the daily life of the large community which the Center has become. The Administrative Command has the responsibility of maintaining the Center's buildings and grounds, and through its facilities all personnel on the Center are house, fed, clothed and paid, and receive their medical and dental car The Administrative Command also provides such other community services as recreational and Navy Exchange facilities; communications, postal and transportation services; and police all fire protection.

Under the Service School Command are grouped more than twenty Navy Schools in which recruits as well as men from the fleet receive training in the specialized duties of certain ratings. Most of these are Class "A" schools, where non-rated men learn the skills and information necessary to them to perform a specific pet officer rating. Among these schools are those which train firecontrol technicians, electricians mates, radiomen, yeomen, commissarymen and stewards. Other schools teach specialized skills such as motion picture operation, teletype maintenance and stenography. The present capacity of the Service Schools is about 5,000 men.

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, tradition 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.

Now in its forty second year of service to the Navy, the Naval Training Center, San Diego, faces with confidence the challenges an unsettled world.
(The Anchor, United States Naval Training Center, San Diego California - 1964)

Before 1993 NTC expanded to over 300 buildings with nearly 3 million square feet of space occupying almost 550 acres onsite plus training buildings at 32nd Street Naval Station.

Hundreds of thousands of civilian and military passed through the gates of Naval Training Center in the course of it's history. This base remains a proud memory for over a million civilian and military personnel who provided support functions, taught or received training here.

Contributing to the Economy
In annual payroll alone -- for both military and civilian personnel -- NTC contributed almost $80 million per year to the San Diego economy, according to the Navy's proposed 1994 budget. More than 28,000 visitors a year came to graduations at RTC, and 80 percent of these visitors were from out of town and contributed almost $7 million annually to the local economy. Beyond these payroll and visitor expenditures, the Navy spent an additional $10 million for base operation support contracts. With all finances taken into consideration, NTC provided over 2 billion dollars to the local economy over it's lifetime.

NTC Closes
The end of the Cold War led to military downsizing and the need to close surplus bases. The federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission eventually slated NTC for closure in 1993.

The Navy closed NTC facilities incrementally with Recruit Training Command closing in 1995, Service School Command in December 1996 and many smaller tenant commands closed or moved during these years. The Navy officially closed NTC on April 30, 1997, and ceased all military operations.

1994-1996 - City's NTC Reuse Committee, with input from interested citizens, makes recommendations resulting in a draft Reuse Plan.

Nov. 1996 - City Council adopts draft Reuse Plan as the City's preferred alternative.

March 1996 - Voters approve changing designation of NTC property from future urbanizing to planned urbanizing.

April 1997 - The Navy closes NTC and all active military uses of the base concludes.

May 1997 - City Redevelopment Agency adopts the NTC Redevelopment Project Area.

Dec. 1996-Aug. 1997 - Navy and City prepare joint draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) for public review.

Aug. 1997-July 1998 - Navy and City prepare joint Final Draft EIS/EIR.

July 1998 - Navy issues contract for its appraisal of property.

Aug. 1998 - City completes Final Draft Reuse Plan.

Aug. 1998 - City issues Request for Qualifications for master developer/partner.

Oct. 1998 - City Council adopts Reuse Plan and certifies EIS/EIR.

Jan. 1999 - City issues Request for Proposals for master developer/partner.

Feb 1999 - Navy receives draft appraisal from its contractor and allows the City limited review.

Mar. 1999 - Navy signs Record of Decision, Navy's final approval of Reuse Plan and certification of the EIS.

June 1999 - City Council selects master developer/partner.

May 1999 - City submits Economic Development Conveyance application (including business plan and offer to purchase) to Navy.

May-Nov. 1999 - City and Navy negotiate property transfer.

May-Nov. 1999 - City negotiates Disposition and Development Agreement with the master developer.

Mar 2000 - City receives property from the Navy and signs Disposition and Development Agreement with the master developer.

(Facts About Naval Training Center, San Diego, The City of San Diego 1999)

NTC Reuse
A large portion of Naval Training Center has been designated as a historical site. It's only fitting that where hundreds of thousands of men and women transitioned from civilians to Sailors and learned advanced training that a museum be set up in this historical site. The city in 1997 set down this vision for the historic core.

Historic Core Development Concept
At the north end could be a retail marketplace featuring restaurants, marine-oriented crafts, farmers markets, and other festive retail uses. Along with traditional retailers, uses that combine crafts and manufacturing with retail sales are encouraged. The main body of the Historic Core could be rehabilitated into a variety of commercial uses including offices, small retail uses, and live/work spaces. The NTC headquarters building and its grounds could become the site of a military and maritime museum celebrating San Diego's maritime history and military heritage.

2002 - Five hundred military family housing units are under construction.

Sep 2002 - The first military housing units are completed, Sailors and their families start to move in.

McMillin Companies, the Master Developer for the former Naval Training Center now named "Liberty Station" starts the horizontal improvements for the 350 civilian housing units that will be built.

May 2003 - The NTC Foundation receives approval from the San Diego City Council for loans to advance the reutilization of the Arts, Culture and Civic center now named "Promenade Center."

June 2003 - First family moves into new McMillin constructed home at Liberty Station.


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