BREMERTON, Wash. –
Four years after digging into the double duties of extra work and academics as apprentices, 270 Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility employees struck pay dirt at the Nov. 16 Apprentice Graduation.
Earning journey-level certificates in 26 production trades and associate degrees in technical arts, the graduates received their new credentials before a massive crowd of well-wishers that overflowed the Bremerton High School Performing Arts Center, where the ceremony was held.
In addition to PSNS & IMF, graduates included employees of the newly renamed Trident Refit Facility, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest, and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport.
Ashley Schwartz, a graduating PSNS & IMF electronics mechanic selected to speak for the class at the ceremony, reminded attending friends and family about the sacrifices that were necessary for success in the program.
“Life did not make this journey an easy one,” Schwartz said. “We were spread thin, our time was a commodity, and in order to be successful we had to use it wisely. We had to make sacrifices -- sacrificing our time with our family and friends. But, through our individual and group efforts, here we are.”
Among the group’s achievement were a cumulative 3.8 grade point average and a graduation rate over 90 percent. Four graduates were singled out for special honors at the ceremony.
- Erin LeMieux, an electronics mechanic, was named Apprentice of the Year by the program’s administration.
- Joshua David, a production machinery electrician, received the Scholastic Achievement Award from the Federal Manager’s Association.
- Tomitka Crow, a temporary services electrician, received the Apprentice Craftsman Award from the Assistant Production Superintendent’s Association.
- Thermal insulator Mitchell Pappas received the Leadership Award from the National Association of Superintendents.
The ceremony included induction of former Apprentice Program administrator Bryan Watland into the Apprentice Hall of Fame. Watland managed the program from 2005 to 2015, and in 2016 he and the program earned the Washington State Association of College Trustees’ Partner of the Year Award.
Shipyard Commander Capt. Howard Markle hosted the event and talked at length about the enormous contribution that apprentices and program graduates make to the command’s success.
“The things you will work on and the things you will prepare our Navy for are truly amazing,” Markle said. “We rely on your expertise, dedication, proficiency and competency to accomplish our mission. Seeing the work you do, your professionalism and the way you help each other, is amazing.”
Markle thanked Olympic College, as well as other state and local partners for their support of the program. He also reserved a lengthy expression of gratitude for the families of the graduating apprentices, saying, “You are as much a part of these graduates’ and the shipyard’s success as anyone.”
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. Over the years, 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.