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NEWS | March 14, 2024

Dedication ceremony held for new propulsion shaft lathe that honors the memory and sacrifice of fallen Navy SEAL

By Max Maxfield, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility dedicated a new propulsion shaft lathe named in honor of a fallen U.S. Navy SEAL during a ceremony in Bldg. 431, the Inside Machine Shop, Feb. 26, 2024, in Bremerton, Wash.

During the ceremony lead by Capt. JD Crinklaw, commander, PSNS & IMF, the new propulsion shaft lathe built by Machine Tool Research in Rochester, N.Y., was dedicated to Special Warfare Operator 1st Class (Navy SEAL) Patrick D. Feeks, who was killed in a helicopter crash during a firefight with insurgents in southern Afghanistan Aug. 16, 2012.

Also lost in that engagement were:

  • Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Sean P. Carson,
  • Army Sergeant Richard A. Essex,
  • Army Sergeant Luis A. Oliver Galbreath,
  • Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian D. Hornsby,
  • Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Suresh N. A. Krause; and
  • Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class David J. Warsen, a SEAL Team 3 teammate of Patrick’s, along with four Afghan allies.

“There will never be enough U.S. Navy ships in the fleet to honor every U.S. Navy hero who has served and sacrificed for our nation,” Crinklaw said. “However, here at PSNS & IMF, we can honor Navy SEAL Patrick Feeks by putting his name on this lathe—a lathe that we will use to maintain, repair and modernize the U.S. Navy warships that take Sailors into harm’s way around the world, as we have since 1891.”

The lathe has a bronze plaque affixed that depicts the Navy SEAL Trident, a Bronze Star medal with “V” device, a Purple Heart, along with Feeks’ name and some details of his service. It also denotes the device as a propulsion shaft lathe, and the words “Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.”

Mike Jepson, operations director, Shop 31, Inside Machinist, explained the impact this lathe will have on the navy and the PSNS & IMF workforce for generations to come.

“Construction on this machine shop started in 1934, finished in 1935, and has been serving the Navy non-stop since that time,” said Jepson. “We have machines that have been in use for a very long time. I call them ‘generational machines.’”

Jepson explained that he spent much of his career as a second-generation member of the shafting team, following in the footsteps of his father.

“I actually learned how to operate the 80-year-old Betts-Bridgeford shaft lathes from my father,” he said. “Who knows? With this MTR shaft lathe being a generational machine, one of you sitting out here today may be training your son or daughter on this machine someday.”

Crinklaw said putting Feeks’ name on the lathe is one way to begin honoring his sacrifice. However, the true testament to Feeks’ legacy will be in how Shop 31 and PSNS & IMF uses it to support the Navy in the coming decades.

“The skill you will employ when using it is, and will always be, a proud testament to such a special Sailor,” Crinklaw said. “Today, this lathe becomes collectively our lathe; Patrick’s lathe and the shipyard’s lathe. Our and Patrick’s legacies are now intertwined and will eventually touch dozens of U.S. Navy warships. Together, we will contribute to hundreds of thousands of miles – or more – steamed around the world. Countless Sailors and Marines will serve aboard proud U.S. Navy ships touched by our lathe.”

The shaft lathe bearing Feeks’ name was acquired through the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program. It cost about $21 million to purchase and install in Bldg. 431.

As one part of its mission, SIOP invests in the recapitalization of industrial plant equipment with modern technology across all four public shipyards to substantially increase productivity and safety. Since its establishment, SIOP has delivered 138 pieces of equipment across all four shipyards, at a cost of $399 million.

Brooks Farnsworth, deputy program manager for Program Management Office 555, SIOP, said honoring Feeks’ legacy while also helping equip PSNS & IMF for future missions was an added bonus.

“I am pleased to be here today to pay tribute to Patrick Feeks and to celebrate the vital investment in safe and efficient equipment for the shipyard’s workforce,” Farnsworth said.

Crinklaw said he trusts the PSNS & IMF workforce will live up to the high bar Feeks’ set with his service and sacrifice.

“Right now, you can find Patrick standing eternal watch in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 60, Grave 10200, alongside a long line of heroes stretching back to the birth of our nation,” Crinklaw said. “After today, our legacy and U.S. Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Patrick D. Feeks’ name and legacy will be right here; inspiring and empowering the Inside Machine Shop as they continue their never-ending mission of maintaining, repairing and modernizing warships of the U.S. Pacific fleet.

“We should all be inspired by that tradition of excellence that Patrick and his Navy SEAL teammates epitomize,” he continued. “We should be proud and grateful that the Feeks family have allowed us to join his name and legacy to our work. We couldn’t ask for a more consummate professional and dedicated patriot to motivate us, than Patrick.”