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NEWS | Sept. 7, 2023

PHNSY & IMF Apprentice Program Celebrates its 103rd Year Anniversary

By Albert Lau Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard

The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PHNSY & IMF) Apprentice Program is in its 103rd year of supporting our shipyard and keeping our fleet, “Fit to Fight.”

During the first 12 years of the shipyard’s existence, a ready supply of skilled craftsmen became increasingly difficult to find. The obvious answer was to train local talent to become the skilled workforce needed to support the shipyard.

In 1920, the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard initiated a new training program with the hiring of two students, Leonard H. Dexter and Fred C. Douse, to work and train as  apprentices. In the early years of the program, there were only five to 15 apprentices in attendance. Today, the average class has over 2,000 applicants per year, all vying for 150-200 apprentice positions. Since 1920, over 6,300 apprentices have completed the program.

Apprentice pay has also increased significantly over time. In the early 1940s, minimum wage was 40 cents per hour. In 1945, the pay for a journeyman was $1.45 per hour. By 1963, first-year apprentices were earning $1.99 per hour, plus fringe benefits. Today, starting pay for an apprentice is approximately $23 per hour and upon  graduating, they earn approximately $35 per hour. Current benefits include annual leave, sick leave, paid federal holidays, health insurance, life insurance and a retirement plan. 

Apprentice graduates complete eight Honolulu Community College (HCC) and a Cooperative Education course, resulting in 60 academic credit hours earned. They also complete three to four years of Shipyard Trade Theory courses. That equates to over 7,200 hours of experience, exposure and education through On-the-Job Learning, Shipyard Trade Theory courses and HCC academic courses.

The Apprentice Program is a successful partnership between the PHNSY & IMF, the U.S. Department of Labor and HCC. Graduating apprentices earn an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) Degree in Applied Trades, a DoL Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship, and a Department of the Navy Certificate of Apprenticeship.

The Apprentice Program is known for developing highly skilled journey workers, which in turn, breeds future leaders. Many leadership positions in the shipyard are held by former apprentice graduates, including department/division/branch heads, shop superintendents, shipyard managers, first and second level supervisors, instructors, work leaders and a variety of other leadership positions throughout our shipyard. Approximately 41% of our current civilian shipyard population is comprised of apprentice  graduates.

The PHNSY & IMF Apprentice Program is a true success story. All who execute, support and participate in the apprentice program are a part of its rich history and each and every person has had a hand in making and keeping PHNSY & IMF Shipyard, No Ka ‘Oi!