USS Recruit
City Councilmember Jen Campbell and Mayor Todd Gloria present a proclamation as the USS Recruit is opened to visitors. Photo by Chris Jennewein

The landlocked training ship USS Recruit, where millions of new recruits drilled over decades, was opened to visitors Wednesday in honor of the 100th anniversary of the former Naval Training Center.

Affectionately known as “USS Neversail,” the 233-foot-long structure is two-thirds the size of a Dealey-class destroyer escort. It was completed in 1949 and renovated in 1982 to resemble a modern guided-missile frigate.

Mayor Todd Gloria presided over the opening of the historic structure as an exhibit in Liberty Station, presenting a proclamation along with City Councilmember Jennifer Campbell.

Gloria praised the transformation of the former training center into a major residential area and arts hub, citing the opening of the USS Recruit as the latest example of “preserving this property and preparing for the future.”

“What is happening here in Liberty Station is so reflective of what’s happening in our city,” he said.

Inside the restored training ship is an immersive display with videos, photos, historic plans and other memorabilia.

“When creating this exhibit, we selected photographs that showcase the USS Recruit throughout its existence — from original construction in 1949 through subsequent renovations — to demonstrate its innovative evolution,” said Alisa Leslie, curator of collections for Seligman Western Enterprises, owner of Liberty Station’s commercial properties.  

As guests walk through the exhibit, they will experience what it felt like to be a Naval recruit during the training vessel’s prime and be able to put stories and names to some of the men and women who trained at the site.  

The vessel, which is a California Historical Landmark, will be open on Saturdays and Sundays, from noon to 4 p.m. It’s located near the intersection of North Harbor Drive and Laning Road in Pt. Loma.

Entrance to USS Recruit
The entrance to the USS Recruit. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.