Training Center Cape May
Coast Guard Training Center Cape May is the home of the Coast Guard enlisted corps. The goal of Coast Guard Recruit Training is to develop entry level apprentices for service in the Coast Guard. Everyday Coast Guard members engage in Law Enforcement, Search and Rescue, Aids to Navigation, Marine & Environmental Safety, Ice Patrol, Recreational Boating Safety and more.
Training Center Cape May is the home to many Coast Guard commands and units. These units are either homeported at the Training Center or are located in the immediate area.
Sewell Point, the area occupied by the Training Center, has a long history of naval presence. During the American Revolution and throughout the nineteenth century, Cape May Sound was used as a harbor of refuge. In 1917, the Navy established a "section base" in Cape May, to provide training, vessel support and communication facilities for coastal defense. Initially, the Navy converted an abandoned amusement center, built along the oceanfront, for military use. The old skating rink became the mess hall and sleeping quarters, the stage was made into a galley, the "human roulette wheel" -- a scrub table and the "barrel of fun" became a brig. When the old wooden structure burned down in 1918, the Navy built standard military facilities along the harbor front (some of these buildings still stand today).
After World War I, the base was adapted to accommodate dirigibles. The largest hanger in the world, 700 feet long and over 100 feet tall, was built to accommodate an airship under construction in Britain. Unfortunately, the ZR-2 crashed on its test flight and "lighter-than-air" craft were never fully adopted for Navy use.
In 1924, the U.S. Coast Guard occupied the base and established air facilities for planes used in support of U.S. Customs Service efforts. During the Prohibition era, several cutters were assigned to Cape May to foil rumrunners operating off the New Jersey coast. After Prohibition, the Coast Guard all but abandoned Cape May leaving a small air/sea rescue contingent. For a short period of time (1929-1934), part of the base was used as a civilian airport. With the advent of World War II, a larger airstrip was constructed and the Navy returned to train aircraft carrier pilots. The over the water approach simulated carrier landings at sea. The Coast Guard also increased its Cape May forces for coastal patrol, anti-submarine warfare, air/sea rescue and buoy service. In 1946, the Navy relinquished the base to the Coast Guard.
In 1948, all entry level training on the east coast was moved to the U.S. Coast Guard Recruit Receiving Station in Cape May. The Coast Guard consolidated all recruit training functions in Cape May in 1982.
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