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USS Neversail

It was the first of its kind -- not quite 'building, not quite a ship. USS Recruit (TDE-1 and TFFG-1) the Navy's first non-ship, was originally a commissioned vessel and observed traditional Naval shipboard procedures like all other vessels. Any Sailor who ever served duty on board this haze gray ship awash in concrete, fondly remembers his first 'request permission to come aboard.

Affectionately known as USS Neversail, the Recruit was a two-thirds scale mock-up and served as a Sea Daddy to new recruits. When completed in 1949, it was 225 long, had a 24-foot, four inch beam and a 41-foot mast.

During construction, Sailors in NTC's seamanship division supervised the rigging with standard Navy fittings obtained from salvage and mothballed ships. The Recruit was commissioned Rear Adm. Wilder D. Baker, commandant, Eleventh Naval District, on July 27, 1'949. A commission pennant was broken and the ensign and Union Jack was hoisted.

It served as a school for all recruits going through basic seamanship indoctrination. The ship's deck was an exact replica of what a Sailor could expect in the fleet. The Recruit had cleats, chocks nd mooring lines and operated as any standard Navy ship. Sailors learned rnarlinspike seamanship, ground tackle operation, cargo booms, deck fittings, lift boat handling and signal equipment.

Besides the regular classrooms, a company of recruits would stay on board from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. each night to polish watchstanding skills.

The recruit went into "drydock" for three months in 1954 for an overhaul and minor repairs. For almost 18 years, the Recruit served the Navy, but in 1967, something unusual happened: automation got the better hand. Technology is supposed to advance one's life, but in this case, it marked the end of the Recruit's commission.

Navy civilian employees making a, card-index inventory of vessels in the San Diego area, found themselves baffled by one particular card, which, when placed through the computer for classification, was continually rejected.

The computer determined that the ship was neither afloat nor tied up ashore. It was not in drydock, not undergoing repairs or rehauling, not in 'mothball' and was crewless! The ship had no boilers, engines or screws and when they discovered the computer could not classify USS Recruit as a commissioned vessel, it was decommissioned on March 7, 1967.

In 1982, the Recruit was old and weathered. Repairs took place to transform the ship from a training destroyer escort into a training guided missile frigate. The new ship had a wooden anchor and was armed with three-inch wooden guns and, a wooden depth charge launcher. The classrooms were modernized and enlarged now accommodating up to 80 Recruits for training.

By 1996, the ship's fate was still undetermined. It was sparred from demolition and some plans call for it to be turned into a maritime museum. Only the future will determine USS Recruitĺs Fate.