History Bytes: Naval Station Newport

August 21, 2018

Naval Station Newport was formally established in 1883 under the command of Captain Stephen B. Luce for the purpose of training 750 sailors. A year later Luce became the first president of the Naval War College. By 1887 the Training Station began training boys entirely on shore as the program expanded to over 2,000 seamen. With the outbreak of World War I in 1914 the first preparations for war began, and the Training Station expanded onto Coddington Point. By 1916 there were 7,215 men stationed there, and Newport became the home for a yeoman school, signal school, Hospital Corps Training School, Commissary School, Musician’s School, and a Firemen’s School. After the United States formally entered WWI in April 1917 the Naval Station received authority to increase capacity by 10,000 men. Temporary barracks, mess halls and auxiliary buildings were made into Camp Sadler on Coasters Island, as well as a tent city for 2,800 recruits called Camp Palmer. The enacting of the Selective Service Act of 1917 brought an average of 15,000 men each month for training, and while women were not eligible for the draft, they began enrolling in the Navy at this time. All of this led to more expansion. During WWI, Training Station Newport equipped and sent 65,000 sailors to sea, in addition to thousands of Naval reservists trained there.

Image: WWI Sailors, from the Samuel Kerschner collection, NHS