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NEWS | Oct. 25, 2023

New class of apprentices ready for their future after receiving certificates at annual graduation ceremony

By Aime Lykins, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs

After four years of hard work and dedication, learning in a hybrid online and in-person environment, 236 skilled workers graduated from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility Apprentice Program during a ceremony held Sept. 29 at the Bremerton High School Performing Arts Center.

This year’s graduates represent 27 different trades and maintained an overall class GPA of 3.85. Each graduate received a certificate as a journey-level mechanic in their respective trade, as well as an associate’s degree in technical arts from Olympic College.

Family members, friends, instructors, supervisors, apprentice program alumni and local government officials attended the ceremony.

“These past four years haven’t been easy,” said Capt. JD Crinklaw, commander, PSNS & IMF. “Challenges were presented, but you persevered and came through them together. You have learned to adapt and overcome. You’ve had to prioritize and reprioritize — learning to be flexible and embracing change, to grow both personally and professionally.”

“The Navy and nation need us to do what we do best — maintain and modernize our ships and submarines,” continued Crinklaw. “They are looking to their shipyard teams to have ships in and out on time, and you are the future leaders who are going to make that happen. Keep innovating. Ask questions, seek solutions and share your opinions and ideas.”

Apprentice class speaker Millie Stivers, welder, Shop 26, Welders, told the class that graduating as journey-level mechanics is just the beginning of what they can all accomplish throughout their careers at PSNS & IMF.

“We are now the future,” said Stivers. “We are now the ones who are looked upon as journeymen mechanics, the ones with the knowledge, skills and experience. We stand proud on the traditions that this apprenticeship was built upon. Now we lead the way for those who are yet to come.”

Four graduates received special honors during the ceremony:

•  Caitlin Sutter, welder, Shop 26, Welders, was named the Apprentice of the Year by the program’s administration.

•  Murrel McLaughlin, welder, Shop 26, Welders, received the Scholastic Award from the Federal Manager’s Association, and graduated with a 4.0 GPA, the highest grade in his program.

•  Kyle Schoening, toolmaker, Shop 31, Inside Machinist, received the Apprentice Craftsman of the Year Award from the Assistant Production Superintendent’s Association.

•  Michael Fitch, marine machinery mechanic, Shop 38, Marine Machinist, received the Leadership Award from the National Association of Superintendents.

The PSNS & IMF Apprentice Program was created in 1901, when the Shipyard Labor Board selected six men to train under skilled craftsmen at the facility. The program has grown to become an award-winning advanced training course for members of the shipyard team. Since 1950, PSNS & IMF has partnered with Olympic College for customized, accredited course work in support of the Apprentice Program.