By George Blackwell, MarineLink.com
Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) informs that it has held a graduation ceremony for graduates of Ingalls Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School. The ceremony, held at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention Center, celebrated the accomplishments of 72 students representing various crafts at Ingalls.
This is the first graduating class that had students who attended classes in the new Haley Reeves Barbour Maritime Training Academy. Through the academy, Ingalls is entering into a new phase of partnership with the Mississippi Community College System that offers a path into bachelor’s degree programs.
Currently, more than 60 faculty and staff deliver 14 different programs and over 120 course offerings that enable apprentices to gain not only the skills, knowledge and pride of workmanship, but also the educational foundation and personal qualities needed to fully meet the challenges of a shipbuilding career. Today more than 1,500 apprentice alumnae fill approximately 50 different types of jobs at Ingalls, from pipe welders to senior executives.
Since 1952, the Apprentice School has produced more than 4,000 graduates in support of Ingalls’ operational needs. The program involves comprehensive two- to four-year curriculum for students interested in shipbuilding careers.
“The expertise you’ve acquired during your time at the Ingalls Apprentice School will serve you well throughout your career, as you establish yourselves as the next generation of craftsmen,” said Vice Adm. William Hilarides, commander, Naval Sea Systems Command, who served as the keynote speaker. “Whether you’re graduating today as an electrician, a welder, a sheet metal cutter or one of the many other trades, you are providing a much-needed skill, not just to Ingalls, but to the Navy and the nation.
Marine electrician Brandon Hamilton, the Outstanding Apprentice of the Year, spoke at the ceremony. “I’m a fourth-generation Ingalls shipbuilder,” he said, “so I grew up hearing about the shipyard and wanted to become a part of it. I learned many things and got a well-rounded experience in the apprentice program. Working with different foremen and crews in many areas of the ship taught me new ways to work with a team, and I learned valuable skills that will stay with me as I enter into this new phase of my career.”
“This ceremony is a celebration of your successful completion of this apprentice program and is an opportunity for us to show you how proud we are of you and what you have accomplished,” said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. “When you entered the program, we believed in your potential. Being here today proves we were right. As I look out across this room, I am encouraged by what our future holds. I am proud of each and every one of you. Continue the momentum you have started, because you are the future of Ingalls Shipbuilding.”