NOB. Norfolk, VA –
A Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) Sailor recently became the first female to earn the Navy’s Steam Generating Plant Inspector (SGPI) certification.
Chief Machinist’s Mate (SW/AW) Mayra Hudgens, assigned to the MARMC Engineering Department’s Steam and Propulsion Branch, completed the SGPI certification course, the final requirement of a career-long process. The SGPI certification process begins with the selection of a junior machinist’s mate by community leaders, and requires the completion of an extensive list of prerequisites – a combination of screenings, shipboard qualifications and courses of knowledge.
“When I was aboard USS Boxer (LHD 4) as an E-5, this was a goal I set for myself,” said Hudgens. “Everyone was telling me there had never been a female boiler inspector in the Navy. I remember saying, ‘One day I’m going to be the first.’”
There are more than 6,000 machinist’s mates in the Navy, but only about 25 certified SGPIs, who are vital to steam propulsion operations in the fleet. They perform specialized tasks such as: inspecting material condition; monitoring general readiness; diagnosing improper operating procedures and equipment casualties/failures; and detailing repairs of all marine main propulsion plant boilers and steam catapult accumulators.
“It’s a long training program. We start looking at Sailors early in their careers,” said Senior Chief Machinist’s Mate (SW/AW) Michael Barton, who is also assigned to the Steam and Propulsion Branch. “There are seven conventional steam ships in the Navy, and as we go out to these ships, we’re looking at candidates as early as E-4, Sailors with potential and who have a genuine interest in learning this part of the rating and put them on a SGPI list.”
The list is whittled down before candidates, who must earn the rank of chief petty officer, make it to the final SGPI certification course.
The 15-year veteran credits the many leaders she has worked with throughout her career with helping her reach this point. The machinist’s mate community is one that is close with a tradition of passing the baton to the next generation of leaders.
“Our community is like a family, everybody knows everybody,” Hudgens said. “Every time I went to another ship, the boiler inspector would always come and find me to talk about SGPI and help me along the way. It’s like a mentorship program to mold the best boiler inspectors.”
Now that she has achieved one of the highest qualifications in the propulsion field, she hopes that her accomplishment will influence others like her to aim high.
“There are not a lot of female machinist’s mates, especially in propulsion,” said Hudgens. “My hope is that by me achieving this, it will push more female machinist’s mates to set their goals high and realize they could be doing the same thing that the guys are doing, if they work hard and don’t give up.”
MARMC provides surface ship maintenance, management and oversight of private sector maintenance and fleet technical assistance to ships in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and provides support to the fifth and sixth Fleet Area of Responsibilities.