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NEWS | Nov. 16, 2023

TRFB Employee Awarded Instructor of the Year

By MC2 Adora Okafor Trident Refit Facility, Bangor

Traditionally, careers in trades and industrial environments such as manufacturing, construction, and engineering have been male-dominated. Women have been underrepresented in these sectors, both in blue-collar and white-collar roles. As women’s roles in the workforce continuously evolves, there are many initiatives and efforts to facilitate gender diversity in industrial fields. Programs like Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) and Washington Women in Trades help to expand and promote career paths that are less likely for women.

Bobbi Worden, a crane operator instructor at Trident Refit Facility, Bangor (TRFB), is not just an expert in her field, but can also be considered an inspiration for women in trades. This year, her dedication and excellence throughout her career have earned her the 2023 Washington Women in Trades: Instructor of the Year award.  The Washington Women in Trades "Dream Big Dinner" awards program recognizes, celebrates, and validates the successes and challenges of working women, as well as students, advocates, and workplace leaders. Worden was recognized at the dinner, along with other leaders, on Nov. 11, 2023, at Shoreline Community College, Shoreline, Washington.

Worden’s journey into the world of crane operations began after working in the childcare sector for 13 years. Reflecting on her decision to make the transition to government work, Worden said she sought a career path that was more stable and could offer her benefits. Both longevity and the possibility for retirement fueled her decision to explore a career in trades.

“I worked outside of the shipyard for 13 years at one specific job,” said Worden. “We didn't have retirement, we didn't have leave, we didn't have things that would help me in my future. I was getting paid hourly; if I took a day off, I didn't get paid.”

After looking into government work, Worden saw that Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) had job openings for riggers. While she had no experience and knew very little about the job, she knew how to work hard. In 2007, Worden began working as a rigger at PSNS, and a year later was offered a position as a crane operator. Her progression into crane operation was fueled by her desire to learn, work hard and mentor others. 

"As a crane operator, I mentored a lot of new hires," Worden shared. "I really enjoyed it. I loved it. I cared about my job, and I was very proud of being a crane operator, so I wanted to share that with new crane operators."

This passion for mentorship led Worden to consider the role of an instructor, a transition she embraced with determination. While she admits that becoming an instructor was very different than mentoring her peers one-on-one, Worden embraced the new challenge of instructing, and has since helped more than one thousand students become qualified.

Amid her accomplishments in her professional journey, Worden says that her biggest accomplishment is being a great mom to her three children Drew (23), Elizabeth (19), and Jace (12). Worden credits her core support system and her supervisors at TRFB for allowing her to navigate the challenges of being a single mother and having a career.

"I have been very blessed to have this job, put two kids through college, and be there for all of their sporting events and everything," said Worden. "I don't like talking about myself. I don't like saying I'm the greatest, but I am a good mom and I'm really proud of that.”

Worden has participated in many career fairs hosted by TRFB and WorkSource Washington, a statewide partnership of state, local and nonprofit agencies that provides employment and training services to job seekers and employers. In the future, Worden hopes to recruit more women into various roles at TRFB. 

“Work here and see what a good place it can be for you and your future,” said Worden. “Hopefully I can inspire someone, even if it's just one person, to come in and try something different and learn a trade. Everything here is on the job training. If you've never done this work before, they’re going to train you how to do it.”

TRFB supports the nation’s strategic deterrence mission by repairing, incrementally overhauling, and modernizing Pacific Fleet SSBNs during refits. To learn more about career opportunities, benefits, and hiring requirements at TRFB, please visit