THE US COAST GUARD TRAINING STATION

AVERY POINT, GROTON, CONNECTICUT

 

This information is provided courtesy of Lester Theriot and his ICEBREAKER page

The United States Coast Guard Training Station in Groton, Connecticut was established in 1942 when the State of Connecticut transferred Avery Point to the Coast Guard with the stipulation that a structure be erected on the grounds to serve as an aid to navigation.

Avery Point, a 71-acre site which extends into Long Island Sound at the entrance of the Thames River, was named for a sea captain, James Avery, who settled the greater New London area. Captain Avery lived here shortly before the turn of the century, when the property came into the possession of Morton F. Plant, a successful railroad magnate. Mr. Plant took great pride in his estate and cost was no object when he built his home and landscaped the property. His home was designed and built by architects from Italy and materials were imported from Italian quarries for the house itself and for gardens throughout the property. Evidence of his unique taste is still available in the "Mansion", which served as the Administration Building for the Training Station, and as the quarters of the Commanding Officer of the Training Station and Coast guard Institute. The quarters of the Executive Officer was a stone house, seen as one enters the Station's grounds.

The Training Station's primary function was to graduate trained and qualified Coast Guardsmen in the specialties pertinent to the efficient operation of the Service. Of the 44 basic rates in the Coast Guard during peace-time, basic schools and training facilities for 12 of them were located here. For other rates, such as those in the aviation branch of the Coast Guard, the services utilized the facilities of the Navy schools.

The length of the courses varied from 2 to 32 weeks, depending upon the nature of the subjects taught. The longest course was the Advanced Telephone Technician Course of 8 months, followed by the electronics Technician Course of 30 weeks and Hospital Corpsman and Radioman Courses of 6 months each. The remainder of the schools were 16 weeks long, with the exception of the Yeoman and Storekeeper Schools which were 12 weeks in length, the 4 week Leadership school, the 3 week Officer Aids to Navigation School and the 8 week LORAN 'C' School.

Subjects taught here included gunnery, machinery, damage control, administrative, clerical and financial work, electricity, commissary and radar.

In addition to the basic schools, the Training Station maintained 4 advanced schools for enlisted men, in gunnery, electronics, telephone communications, and the operation and maintenance of buoys, lights, radio beacons, and other aids to navigation. Special schools here included 1-week and 3-week LORAN "C" School. It was designed to instruct officers and petty officers in the maintenance and operation of LORAN "C" equipment.

Students lived on the Training Station grounds, in rooms that accommodated six men conformably. A force of 110 enlisted instructors was maintained at all times. These men were specially chosen for their jobs and met certain rigid qualifications.

Coast Guard Reservists completed the final phase of their 6-month active duty requirement at the Training Station. An average of 2000 men were trained annually in advanced seamanship, port security operations and general training. A staff of 20 enlisted instructors were maintained in the program.

While an approximate yearly number 3,200 school graduates and reserves considered themselves "alumni" of the Training Station, a vast number of Coast Guardsmen acquired education in their rates through the Coast Guard Institute which was located on the Training Station grounds. Since its establishment in 1928, more than 100,000 men received correspondence course training from the Institute.

Coast Guard Training Station has been turned over to the University of Connecticut, but the Coast Guard Research and Development has remained a tenant.

THE US COAST GUARD INSTITUTE

Although it was located within the gates of the Training Station, the Coast Guard Institute was an independent Headquarters' unit. It had a staff of 17 officers and 70 enlisted men. The operational mission of the Institute was "To train Coast Guard officers and enlisted men in required and optional subjects by means of correspondence courses and to prepare and administer Service-wide military personnel examinations as directed by the Commandant (PTP)."

The main body of the Institute was housed in Building 25, on the southwest corner of the Station grounds. Here correspondence courses were written, printed, bound, and made available by mail to students throughout the Coast Guard.

The Service-wide examinations for advancement to E7, E8, E9, and Warrant Officers were written and graded by the Testing Division in Building 2.

Quarters, messing, and other logistic facilities were furnished by the Training Station. The Institute's Commanding Officer lived with his family in the west wing of the "Mansion". Officers and Chief Petty Officers living aboard had room in the BOQ and CPO quarters, while enlisted men had a section of building 16.

THE GROTON-NEW LONDON AREA

Back in the old days this was Pequot and Mohican Indian country. The first pioneers who came from Massachusetts Colony in 1633, called the Indians "bloody", and with just cause. After fourteen hazardous years, New London was officially founded by John Winthrop. The town embraced both shores of the Thames River with canoe ferry service forming the connecting link. Not until 1705, were the lands on the east bank set apart as a separate township and called Groton in honor of Governor Wintrop's home in England. Shipbuilding became one of the area's earliest industries and is still going strong, Many privateers were launched here during the Revolutionary War and for this reason, British forces were sent to the harbor in 1781. They succeeded in burning New London and capturing Fort Griswold at Groton Heights. The Groton Monument now stands at the site of Fort Griswold, commemorating its defense. In this engagement, Colonel Ledyard and half his forces gave their lives.

New London was at one time the nation's largest whaling port. Today the river front is still bustling with activity, ranging from pleasure boats to nuclear submarines.

Within the past fifty years, this area has become tremendously important as a center for Coast Guard and Naval training programs. Besides our Station, we have the Coast Guard Academy and the Coast Guard Moorings at New London. On the east bank of the Thames River is the U.S. Naval submarine Base, probably the largest such base in the world. The Navy also maintains their Underwater Sound Laboratory on the site of old Fort Trumbull in New London.

 

 

 

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