Please note that this article has been edited to reflect past tense. Portions written by Thomas D. Schumacher were reprinted from the Uppershoreman Vol. 6 No. 9, Earleville, MD
The United States Naval Training Center, Bainbridge, MD Was born on April 10th, 1942. On that date, a Washington contractor received a letter that authorized the start of the center’s construction. The new station was to be able to train 20,000 recruits when completed. The center was built 1,132 acres of land, fronting on the east bank of the Susquehanna river, near the town of port deposit. A portion of the land, about 190 acres had formerly been the location of the Tome School, a preparatory school for boys. The school's well-built facilities included 14 stone buildings and the area was well developed and attractively landscaped. The area where the center was to be built was well served by all of the transportation facilities to a number of larger cities on the Atlantic seaboard.
Schematic plans for the center were prepared by the Bureau of Yards and Docs, but the detailed plans from which the buildings were actually constructed were prepared by a private architectural engineering firm. The Naval Training Center was designed for, four 5,000 recruit training groups, a school group of 3,400 men, an outgoing group of 2,800, a station personnel group of 3,000 and a 1,000-bed hospital. There was also a housing development in the design for 325 apartments. An outstanding feature of the station was an outdoor theater seating 10,000, and built in conjunction with the auditorium. The seats were to be arranged in amphitheater style, on ground which would be terraced and graded. The auditorium would have seating would have a seating capacity of 2,732. Frame construction was used throughout the center. All roofs were flat with the exception of those for the four large drill halls and the auditorium, which were supported by laminated wooden arches.
Barracks, schools, ship's services and administration buildings were of a two-story design; all others were of one story. Cement-asbestos board was used throughout the station to cover exterior walls. Interior walls were covered with plaster board and fiber board. Originally most of the buildings were equipped with individual type stoker fired boilers to provide low pressure steam for heating. The buildings in the hospital area, the large mess halls, and the laundry were heated from central boiler plants. A complete system of utilities was provided to serve the new training center. The water system, which drew water from the Susquehanna River, had a filter plant having a daily capacity of 2,700,000 gallons and a concrete reservoir of the same capacity and a 500,000-gallon steal tank. The distribution system consisted of 23 miles of cast iron pipe. Sewage disposal equipment provided primary and secondary treatment for a daily flow of 3,300,000 gallons and discharged a chlorinated affluent.
The Center was located in an area where there was a number of other large-scale construction jobs going on at the same time. Therefore, the demand for labor was unusually great. Peek employment was 17,000 men during the summer of 1942; during the life of the contract, about 40,000 men were hired. Absenteeism was high, particularly during the winter of 1942 and 43, due to the severe weather, transportation difficulties, and shortage of housing. A work week of 53 hours was established, consisting of five days of nine hours and one of eight hours, of which 13 hours were paid for at overtime rates. Field work began May 18th, 1942. Eighteen hundred station personnel were able to occupy the first group of completed buildings during the first week of September 1942. Dedication and commissioning ceremonies took place on October 1st, 1942. The first recruits arrived October 20th, 1942, and the Station began its work as a United States Training Center.
- Thomas D. Schumacher
The U.S. Naval Training Center, Bainbridge, Maryland, was located in Cecil county on U.S. 222 approximately five miles north of the intersection of U.S. routes 40 and 222. Bainbridge like its two sister commands, San Diego and Great Lakes, has as its mission the training of personnel for fleet and shore activities. The center commander was responsible for military command and coordination control over component activities which includes staff enlisted personnel, service school command, Enlisted Personnel Distribution Office, Continental United States (EPDO CONUS), Personnel Accounting Machine Installation Continental United States; recruit training command (women), naval reserve manpower center, and nuclear power school, each under a commanding officer.
Other components of the center include the naval preparatory school and the commissary school, both under an officer-in-charge. Military control and coordination over the center was exercised by the commandant of the fifth naval district with the center responsible to the bureau of naval personnel for management and finances. Bainbridge was a community of approximately 5,400 military, 600 civilian and 1,500 dependents. The combined population of 9,000 makes Bainbridge the largest settlement in Cecil county.
Basically, Bainbridge was as self- sufficient as any town, providing its own fire protection, water and other municipal services. Nevertheless, a considerable interdependence exists between Bainbridge and the surrounding communities. The center provides water for the nearby town of port deposit. The surrounding communities are the major shopping areas for base personnel. The center spends approximately 9 million 2 hundred thousand dollars yearly for operating expenses and has a payroll of 10 million 800 thousand dollars. Much of this was spent in the local area.
The Bainbridge Naval Training Center covers some 1100 acres. It was built in 1942 as a crash program to provide training for 25,000 men and women. Except for the building acquired with the initial property purchase from the tome institute and other owners, most of the buildings are of temporary construction. After world war II, in 1942, Bainbridge was reduced to the naval preparatory school, and in 1949, it was placed in a caretaker status.
In 1951 the center was reactivated to meet the demands of the Korean conflict and was built up to about half of world war II strength. In 1957 a shortage of training funds necessitated a considerable decrease in the extent of training programs at the center. By May 1958 organizational changes had reduced average combined military and civil service population aboard the center from 14,500 to 4,500. Some 60% of the 402 buildings were inactive. The other 40% in daily use. This drastic reduction resulted primarily from the inactivation of the recruit training command and the attendant cessation of male recruit training. Recruit training of women remained. Also inactivated during this period were the hospital corps school, the administrative command, and the dental technician school.
In December 1958 plans were announced for the establishment of the PAMI CONUS, concerned with the collection, processing, maintenance and dissemination of naval manpower information using electronic data processing machine equipment, was established January 2, 1959. EPDO CONUS which controls the distribution of naval enlisted personnel throughout the continental limits of the united states was established January 2,1960.
During the period of 1957 to 1961, despite the arrival of EPDO and PAMI, the future of the center looked bleak. The retirement program announced in august 1957 resulted not only in the elimination of numerous activities, but also in the development of plans disposing of a large portion of the center’s buildings and land. Then in December 1961, the decision was made to retain Bainbridge as a permanent installation with increased rather than decreased activity. All retrenchment plans were dropped. On July 1st, 1962, the U.S. navy nuclear power school was commissioned and on June 1st, 1963 the naval reserve manpower center was put into commission.
The San Diego Naval Training Center and Great Lakes Naval Training Center are responsible for recruit training for men while all the enlisted women entering the Navy received their training at Bainbridge. Recruit training was the initial training received upon enlisting in the Navy, and it prepares the Navy man and the Wave for general duty. After boot camp, qualified personnel are sent to the service school for an intensive training program in a field. Such advanced training was necessary, for the complex equipment used in the Navy today makes it a service of specialists. Service School Command at Bainbridge furnishes the fleet with trained personnel, qualified to use and maintain the intricate equipment needed to operate our ships efficiently and effectively. Largest of the service schools at Bainbridge was the Radio Class "A" School. About 70 men and women graduate from this school every two weeks. The course of instruction was 24 weeks long. Subjects covered are International Morse Code, typing, basic electricity and electronics, and the operation of receivers. The Fire Control Technical Class "A" School trains men in the principles of electronic control of gun fire. Mathematics, basic electronics and computer systems are some are some of the subjects taught. After "A" School has been completed, certain select students are trained in special radar systems and the best qualified are selected for further training in various advanced missile computer systems at Dam Neck, Virginia.
The Yeoman School was divided into three classes: "A", "B", and "C". Class "A" School prepares sailors and Waves for general administrative and clerical duties. Class "B" School prepares personnel for advanced administrative duties and basic shorthand. Class "C" School prepares advanced personnel for specialized training in shorthand for future secretarial duties. Navy Mail was handled primarily by the rank of Postal Clerk (which was newly established at the time of the original article.) The Class “A” School at Bainbridge taught students the basic steps and requirements of handling the U.S. Navy Mail. Filling the manpower requirements with qualified personnel was difficult. How to enlist personnel who can meet the strict requirements of the Navy was taught to selected first class and chief petty officers at the Personnelman" C-1" Recruiters School
For more information about the USS Bainbridge, a warship whose namesake is the Naval training center an article is available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Bainbridge_(DDG-96)