SPEED MARKS SAMPSON NAVY STATION JOB
This is the third of a series of stories on the new Naval Training Station at Sampson, Seneca County, released by the commandant of the Third Naval District, Another will appear soon.
Sampson - When the contractors move out and the Navy takes over at the huge new U. S. Naval Training Station here, a city of about 35,000 population, mostly wearing the trim blue of Uncle Sam's sea service, will have sprung into existence in less than six months.
On June 3, 1942, two weeks after the site on the east side of Seneca Lake, 10 miles south of Geneva, was selected, 150 men were at work on the preliminary stages of the project. By Nov. 15, workers at times numbering more than 15,000 will have completed a city twice as large in population as Geneva itself, with 392 buildings, a hospital with 1,500 beds, theaters, recreation equipment, two telephone exchanges, fire department and virtually all the facilities of an up-to-date American municipality of the same size.
To accommodate the 30,000 prospective BlueJackets who will be in training at one time, six units have been constructed as the central groups from which the remaining structures stem. In these homogeneous units of 5,000 trainees each, constructed about a 1,200-by-600-foot drill ground, the young BlueJackets will find most of their eight-week careers as "boots" centering.
Each unit consists of the following: Drill field; drill hall, 600 by 120 feet, with swimming pool for instruction purposes; 22 barracks for 224 men each; mess hall seating 1,700 men and feeding 5,000 in an hour; two medical and dental dispensaries; ships service building for recreation, study rooms, library; storehouse; rifle range; and administration and instruction building.
Besides six such units, where the enlisted men can eat, sleep, drill or spend their free time in bowling, table tennis, swimming, letter writing or "gab-fests" over a coke, the following central service buildings, in addition to the 1,500-bed hospital, comprise the station: Administration and receiving, station personnel and disciplinary; school, chapels and auditorium seating 2,500; outgoing; service; storehouses; waterfront facilities, including storage, repair and training equipment; and officers' quarters. Water and sewage plants, telephone exchanges and a railroad station on the station's own siding off the Lehigh Valley Railroad are also part of the war-born city.
The recruit arriving at the station, on a train which will drop him along with some hundred or more fellow "boots," will pass to the receiving station, where he will be examined, uniformed and otherwise "processed," and then be assigned to one of the barracks units. This will be home for two months and he will stray only for study, waterfront and seamanship training, and, perhaps a night or two of liberty in Geneva, Rochester or Syracuse, the largest nearby cities.
One of the barracks buildings will be his immediate home and from the 223 other novice sailormen bunking in the same structure he will choose his close pals, men who in many cases will be his buddies in subsequent Navy days aboard ship and friends for life.
In these two-storied wooden buildings, with foundations of concrete, the trainees will sleep in rows of double-decker bunks. Lavatory and shower rooms at one end will provide just enough space for the bustling gobs at reveille time each morning; washing-and-drying rooms will give most of them their first experience in doing their own laundry, a practice which later will occupy many hours on shipboard.
Day Begins at 6 a.m.
At Sampson, the BlueJackets will store their belongings, uniforms, toilet accessories and personal effects in wooden lockers. This is distinctly a landlubber note from the point of view which the trainees will develop later when they go to sea. Traditionally, the seagoing bureau or locker is the sea-bag, a heavy canvas container equipped with a sturdy lock to insure privacy, but the Sampson students will have to wait until graduation to acquire this mark of saltiness.
From the barracks, the fledgling seamen will emerge at 6 a.m., (0600) in Navy chronology, each day to fall in for inspection and calisthenics on the broad parade ground, 1,200 by 600 feet, which forms the dominant landscaping feature of each unit. A specially prepared sod from the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station near the Sampson Station has been placed on each drill ground to counteract what Commander J. C. Beghard, officer-in-charge of construction, calls the "stickiest soil in New York State," but in the event inclement weather makes the field unusable, a 50-foot paved roadway on its perimeter will provide drill and formation space.
After drill, mess hall will be the next stop on the day's schedule, a huge mess hall where on specially-built tables with attached benches (made by a Geneva concern whose regular stove business was side-tracked by the war), 1,700 men can eat at once. Above this mess hall on the second floor are living accommodations for mess attendants, cooks, etc.; alongside the mess hall are galleys, cold-storage rooms and complete accessory space for cooking for 5,000 men at once.
In the huge gymnasium and drill hall, 600 feet long by 120 feet across, with high wooden-arched roof, the men will have formations in bad weather and learn some of the tricks of the sailorman, climbing rope ladders, working in riggings, or learning close-order drill. In each drill hall a concrete swimming pool, 60 by 75 feet, will be a guarantee that no sailor leaves Sampson who has not learned to take care of himself in the water. For leisure hours and physical development, basketball and other indoor games will be housed in the huge drill halls. In the rifle ranges, the sailors will get a taste of firing small arms.
In case a rookie isn't feeling well, cuts his finger or has a toothache, two dispensaries in each 5,000-man unit are ready. During their stay at Sampson all trainees will have a complete physical and dental going-over at these dispensaries. In case of serious illness, the patient is sent to the station hospital.
In his leisure time, the trainee may head for the ship's service building. Here are a barber shop, short-order cooking restaurant, soda fountain, shoe repair and laundry and tailoring facilities, post office, bowling alleys, card tables and upstairs the study rooms and library, along with a porch overlooking the hill-crowned surface of Seneca Lake.
With movies in the evening in the drill hall, taps by 11 p.m. and a full day's schedule facing him, beginning before 6 a.m. the next morning, is it any wonder that the average young bluejacket is counted on to spend most of his time in his own barracks unit?
Boat Manning on Seneca Lake and Docks, U.S. Naval Training Center, Sampson, N.Y.