United States Naval Training Center, Bainbridge
United States Naval Training Center, Bainbridge (USNTC Bainbridge) was the US Navy Training Center located at Port Deposit, Maryland, on the bluffs of the northeast bank of the Susquehanna River. It was active from 1942 to 1976.
The training center occupied the former campus of the Tome School for boys. Its was ideally located in the militarized U.S. East Coast of World War II, and was accessible via Maryland Route 222 about halfway between US 1 and US 40, approximately 35 miles (56 km) northeast of Baltimore, Maryland, and 75 miles (121 km) from Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The center was placed under the command of the Commander of the Fifth Naval District, based in Norfolk, Virginia.
The site was approved by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the property of the Jacob Tome school for boys was expanded, by government purchase, from 330 acres (1.3 km2) to 1,132 acres (4.58 km2). Eggers & Higgins, the architects on the Thomas Jefferson Memorial was among the architects for the center’s construction. The center was expanded with an additional five hundred buildings and was activated on October 1, 1942. Ten days later the Center was opened and the first batch of U.S. Navy recruits were admitted for “boot camp” training and indoctrination.
President Roosevelt personally chose the name of “Bainbridge” for the Center in honor of Commodore William Bainbridge who had commanded the famous American frigate Constitution during the War of 1812 and defeated the British frigate HMS Java. The president reportedly expressed his wishes that the Center would live up to the high standards established by Commodore Bainbridge.
World War II
Once the gates were opened for recruits on October 11, 1942, the first busloads of recruits arrived from transportation collection points at Havre de Grace and Perryville, Maryland. The recruits were given a battery of tests to determine their educational and skill levels, then trained in indoctrination, ordnance and gunnery, seamanship, fire fighting, physical training, and military drill.
Part of each recruit's training included the ignoble “service week” training, which occurred halfway through boot camp training and included kitchen duty, peeling potatoes, mopping, picking up “butts”, etc. However, the more fortunate recruits with special desirable skills, such as typing, could end up on an office typewriter rather than in a kitchen.
Military recruits were also trained in shipboard duties. However, these “shipboard duties” were aboard the R.T.S. Commodore, a relatively large ship built on dry land. The dry land-bound ship was equipped with most of the facilities found on a real ship, including deck guns, pilot house, davits with whaleboats, and mooring lines fastened to earth-bound bollards, so that crew members could even learn casting off hawsers and other lines connecting the ship to its dock.
By the end of World War II, the center had trained a total of 244,277 recruits who were formally graduated and transferred to various ships and stations throughout the world. After World War II, the center continued limited operations until June 30, 1947, when it was first inactivated as a Navy training center.
A total of 24,484 recruit graduates were trained and graduated during World War II with technical skills under the direction of the Service School Command.
The following activities, under the control of the Service School Command and the Administrative Command, were located in the Naval Training Center during World War II and were not part of the Recruit Training Command portion of the Naval Training Center:
- Coast Guard School
- Rockefeller Research Unit (Report to Naval Training Station).
- Stewards Mates' School Roll
- Naval Academy Preparatory School
- Naval Hospital
- Hospital Corps School
- Naval Training School (Radio)
- Naval Training School (Fire Controlmen)
- Fire Fighters School
- Naval Training School (Electrical)
- Naval Training School (Physical Instructors)
- Naval Training School (Instructors)
- Naval Training School (Sound Motion Picture Technician)
- Fire Fighters Training Unit)
- Naval Training School (Motion Picture Operators)
- Naval Training School (Recruit Instructors - C)
After World War II, the center was deactivated in 1947, and the only school remaining at the center was then the Naval Academy Prep School, which continued to operate at Bainbridge until it was moved to Newport, Rhode Island, in August 1974.
Korean War reactivation
Since the center’s closing in 1947, a maintenance staff remained to protect the buildings from weather and other damage. In mid-1950, with the advent of the Korean War crisis, plans were made to reactivate the center, and it was officially reopened on February 1, 1951, in a ceremony in which Captain Robert Hall Smith, USN, took overall command.
Initial inspection of the center indicated that the buildings, despite the care of the maintenance staff, were in severe disrepair. A defense contract was awarded to Consolidated Engineering Company, of Baltimore, Maryland. The work of building renewal, plumbing, electrical and road repair, was accomplished ahead of schedule, allowing the center to reopen its gates for its first recruits on April 5, 1951.
The plan was to admit 500 recruits per week, but, because of the war, the rate of admission was soon increased to 1,000 recruits per week. The first 500 recruits who graduated as seamen recruits on June 23, 1951.
The center was divided into four subordinate activities, each with its own commanding officer:
The Administrative Command was responsible for the various tasks and services necessary in running a center containing about 35,000 inhabitants. Tasks included base maintenance, physical security, fire protection, logistics, material procurement, medical care, religious services, transportation, and so on.
Recruit Training Command
The Recruit Training Command was the largest of the center’s commands and was responsible for the basic training of recruits. It consisted of four independent commands – known as camps—each of which had its own regimental drill hall, mess hall, barracks, class rooms, and so on:
- Camp Rodgers
- Camp Perry
- Camp James
- Camp Barney
Each camp contained 5,000 male recruits. A training school was established for WAVE recruits in October 1951. Circa 1959, male recruit training at Bainbridge was closed and male recruit training was only in Great Lakes, Illinois and San Diego, California. Bainbridge was the sole recruit training center for Waves until moving to Orlando, Florida in 1971.
Service School Command
The Service School Command was organized to train selected personnel who had completed “recruit” basic training and demonstrated an aptitude for a skill during initial recruit testing. The command had a capacity of providing specialty training to 4,000 sailors at a time. These personnel were assigned to training in gunnery, fire control, radio, telemetry, and other technical subjects.
The United States Academy Preparatory School was a component of the Service School Command and was chartered to train enlisted personnel for acceptance into the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. The school also trained sailors and marines in necessary academic skills required for admission to colleges and universities under the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps.
The naval hospital was established as a 500-bed hospital for the care of center operating staff, recruits, students and dependents, with provision to increase capacity to 1,000-beds or more if necessary.
The Hospital Corps School, with approximately 1,200 students studying to become Hospital Corpsmen, operated in conjunction with the naval hospital.
In 1962, a Naval Nuclear Power School was installed on the center, but was eventually moved to the Naval Training Center at Orlando, Florida. The Center was deactivated in 1976, after which the center’s facilities were used by the Department of Labor as a Job Corps Training Center on part of the installation until 1990.
Famous individuals who served at the USNTC
- Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill football star & two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up
- Admiral Frank B. Kelso II (1933-), who later became Chief of Naval Operations, served as Commanding Officer, U.S. Naval Nuclear Power School at the U.S. Naval Training Center Bainbridge from 1969-1971.
- Paul Pierce, who later became head football coach at Sul Ross State University and Sam Houston State University.
On November 3, 1986, the United States Congress authorized the Secretary of the Navy to dispose of the NTCB (Naval Training Center, Bainbridge) facility by sale to private parties or transfer to other government agencies. NTCB is the Federal Facilities equivalent of a brownfield site with the primary goal of the Navy being effective re-use of the former property by the State of Maryland and the people of Cecil County. Congress specified that before any sale, the Secretary of the Navy was required to “restore such property to a condition that meets all applicable Federal and State of Maryland environmental protection regulations" (Public Law 99-956). The U.S. Navy has transferred this site to the Bainbridge Development Corporation. The cleanup is complete.
- The Compass, United States Naval Training Center, Bainbridge, Maryland. Atlanta, Georgia: Albert Love. 1954.