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    Training Center Cape May Celebrates 75 Years of Recruit Training

    Training Center Cape May Celebrates 75 Years of Recruit Training

    Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Shannon Kearney | Personnel at U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May hold a public Memorial Day...... read more read more



    Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Shannon Kearney 

    U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May

    The Coast Guard could be considered a “diamond in the rough” amongst the U.S. military branches. It is small but mighty, performing 11 statutory missions across the globe with an active-duty workforce just over 11% the size of the Army. Founded in 1790, the beginnings of the Coast Guard can be traced back to when the very first U.S. Congress – and George Washington himself - authorized the construction of ten vessels to enforce tariff and trade laws and prevent smuggling, a fleet later known as the Revenue Cutter Service.

    Despite operating under a different name, the Coast Guard proudly served as the nation's only armed force afloat until the Navy was established in 1798. It wasn’t until 1915 when Congress merged the Revenue Cutter Service with the Life-Saving Service that the official name “U.S. Coast Guard” was established.

    Throughout centuries of successful operation within the maritime domain, the Coast Guard gained popularity and the United States consolidated more and more mission objectives into the service. In 1939, the Lighthouse Service merged with the Coast Guard, and in 1946 the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation was merged into the service as well, which swept merchant marine licensing, merchant vessel safety and aids to navigation maintenance into its already broad purview.

    During this rapid expansion of the service, World War I, Prohibition, and World War II came and went, and throughout that time Coast Guard members were entering the service at a rapid rate. Before the start of WWI, basic training for Coast Guard personnel was practically non-existent since the majority of men joining the service were experienced watermen or local mariners. Once WWI started, Coast Guardsmen began getting assigned to boat stations and cutters to receive hands-on training after entering the service.

    When the United States entered WWII, the urgent need for lots of trained manpower led to the establishment of training centers and receiving stations across the nation to prepare inexperienced civilians for service in the Coast Guard. Some of the more prominent locations included Port Townsend, Washington; New Orleans, Louisiana; Alameda, California; Manhattan Beach, New York; and the Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Maryland. After WWII ended, the Coast Guard’s desire to centralize enlisted recruit training to one location became a top priority.

    U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., the Coast Guard’s only accession point for the enlisted workforce, was originally built as an airfield by the Navy in 1917 and was used for reconnaissance operations during World War I. When the U.S. entered Prohibition, the Coast Guard began using the base jointly with the Navy to deter and interdict rum runners in the Delaware Bay. In 1924, the Coast Guard established air facilities on the property and throughout the next 20 years, military operations varied between the Coast Guard and the Navy. But in June 1946, the Coast Guard took exclusive ownership of the base.

    At that moment in time, the Coast Guard still had two main locations for enlisted recruit training: one in Alameda, California, and one in Mayport, Florida. In 1948, the recruit training center in Florida closed and relocated to Cape May where on May 31, 1948, Coast Guard Receiving Center Cape May officially opened as a recruit training center. Nearly 48 years later in 1982, the Alameda training base also closed and Training Center Cape May earned its renown as the sole enlisted training center for the U.S. Coast Guard.

    Back then, Training Center Cape May was capable of handling up to 200 recruits monthly, and over the years, basic training varied in length from eight to 12 weeks. Over the past 75 years of recruit training, the facilities have expanded rapidly, which has allowed the Coast Guard to increase the targeted number of recruits trained and graduated to approximately 4,000 recruits in 2023 alone. Over 80% of the Coast Guard’s workforce has passed through the gates at Cape May to receive the training necessary to protect, defend, and save the nation they selflessly serve.

    “The Coast Guard’s missions have continued to expand and Training Center Cape May has, and will, continue to expand with it,” said Capt. Warren Judge, 33rd commanding officer of Training Center Cape May. “As Coast Guard women and men are deployed worldwide overseeing and carrying out the Coast Guard’s 11 statutory missions, Training Center Cape May continues to work vigorously to produce basically trained, physically fit, fleet-ready women and men for the world’s best Coast Guard. The Coast Guard’s mission and our training mission never stop; therefore, our staff works tirelessly to execute excellence for our fleet.”

    Keeping in step with the service’s expansion, Training Center Cape May has more than $50 million in authorized projects to expand its recruit living quarters and begin planning for the construction of a new multi-purpose, all-weather training facility.

    “These new buildings would be revolutionary for our program and our people,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Radford Hoffpauir, command master chief of Training Center Cape May. “We’ve needed a new gym and indoor track for our recruits to safely take their physical fitness tests during our rainy, snowy, or extremely high temperature days. This facility would also include a multi-purpose facility for large indoor functions such as our weekly recruit graduations, official ceremonies, and all-hands meetings and inspections. Admiral Linda Fagan, our commandant of the Coast Guard says, ‘Tomorrow looks different, and so will we,’ and we’re really embodying that here because in addition to expanding our facilities, we’re expanding our reach for potential recruits too.”

    The Coast Guard has recently found success with the new joint-service English Language Training Program (ELTP), which allows the service to take prospective recruits with limited English language capabilities and send them to school with the U.S. Army to learn English full-time. They return to Coast Guard boot camp once they have graduated the language program and integrate back in with a company to train toward becoming a Coast Guard service member. As of May 2023, five recruits have attended and graduated from the ELTP; all five also successfully completed Coast Guard basic training and are now working in the fleet. Training Center Cape May currently has four more recruits enrolled in the ELTP, with two more slated for the near future.

    In addition, Training Center Cape May has also recently tested the limits and capabilities of the current eight-week recruit training program itself by piloting a new 10-week recruit training beta program. With the extended two weeks of recruit training, the training center has incorporated more physical fitness sessions, more stretching and recovery sessions, and has introduced a new “Coast Guard Toughness” program into their new basic training beta company to develop stronger, more resilient recruits to send to the fleet.

    Training Center Cape May’s mission is to transform the recruits of today into the Coast Guard men and women of tomorrow. They take civilian volunteers and put them under eight weeks of pressure, sharpening their wits and reaction times, forging them into the hardworking, dedicated servicemembers that shine and embody the Coast Guard’s core values of Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty. They forge diamonds for the fleet, and it’s only appropriate that the Coast Guard celebrates their training center’s 75th anniversary – their diamond anniversary - with a bit of a flourish and recognize their most important training asset: Their People.

    “As we pay homage to all Coast Guard members and their families for the past 75 years, please know when you visit Training Center Cape May, you are always welcome home,” said Capt. Judge.


    Date Taken: 05.31.2023
    Date Posted: 05.31.2023 15:39
    Story ID: 445891
    Location: CAPE MAY, NEW JERSEY, US
    Hometown: CAPE MAY, NEW JERSEY, US

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