BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Ingalls Shipbuilding's Apprentice School graduated a new group of future shipbuilders Saturday at a ceremony in Biloxi. The class consisted of 72 students representing various crafts at Ingalls.
It's the first graduating class with students who attended classes in the new Haley Reeves Barbour Maritime Training Academy.
"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.
"That is really something to be proud of, knowing that the work you're doing today is a part of the Navy's growing legacy of operating forward to keep America safe," Hilarides continued. "So congratulations and thank you. You are part of an exceptional group of American craftsmen who demonstrate your service to our nation in the work you do each and every day."
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 new Haley Reeves Barbour Maritime Training Academy marked the beginning of a 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.
More than 1,500 apprentice alumnae fill approximately 50 different types of jobs at Ingalls, from pipe welders to senior executives.
"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."
Pictured on the front row (left to right) are award-winners Charles McQueen, Daniel Hart, Kemp Nolan, Donald Ehlers, Brandon Hamilton, David Stringer, Henry Hudson, Christopher Ingram, Marquis Thompson and Steven Nall. Hamilton (in the gold stole) was the Outstanding Apprentice of the Year; those in the silver stoles were Apprentice of the Year award-winners, and those in the red stoles were Ship Award winners.