This USS Recruit is one of three landlocked ships that the Navy used for promotion and training. The Recruit was built to scale, two-thirds the size of a Dealey-class destroyer escort, and was commissioned on July 27, 1949. The building of the USS Recruit is sheet metal over wood framing on a concrete slab foundation. The USS Recruit measured 225’ from bow to stern with a beam of 24’ 4” and a height of 41’ from the tip of the mast to the asphalt. However, in 1982, the USS Recruit was reconditioned as a training guided-missile frigate and the overall length of the USS Recruit increased to 233’. The structure is officially designated as TDE-1, which stands for "Training Device, Experimental No. 1." The TDE-1 was used to teach new recruits about the basics of shipboard life, including navigation, gunnery, and other essential skills.
At the height of the Naval Training Center (NTC), 50,000+ recruits a year learned basic naval procedures on this ship from 1949 to 1989. As the USS Recruit was the Navy’s only commissioned ship that never touched the water, it was playfully nicknamed “USS Neversail” by recruits. Here, recruits learned how to follow orders and how to maneuver around a ship. The Recruit was outfitted with standard naval rigging and even had a 3-inch gun. It was the first of three training structures built by the Navy after World War II, and it is the only one that remains.
The USS Recruit served as a training ship until the NTC closed in 1997. The USS Recruit was designated a California State Historic Landmark on August 13, 2005, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NARA).
The USS Recruit is located at the corner of Laning and Harbor Dr. and will be opening an exhibit in June 2023 with visiting hours on Saturday and Sunday from 12 PM - 4 PM. The USS Recruit is an important part of the city's naval history and serves as a reminder of the innovative ways that the Navy trained new recruits during times of war.