Ingalls Shipbuilding honors master shipbuilders - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Ingalls Shipbuilding honors master shipbuilders

David Wooten, right, is congratulated for his 40 years of service at Ingalls Shipbuilding. (Photo source: WLOX) David Wooten, right, is congratulated for his 40 years of service at Ingalls Shipbuilding. (Photo source: WLOX)
PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

Ingalls Shipbuilding is honoring members of its own family. They are called master shipbuilders. They are those who have worked 40 years for the company.

This year, 87 people will have the honor. As director of communications at Ingalls Shipbuilding, Jim McIngvale is used to shining the light on others. Now, as a master shipbuilder, he will join them in it.

His first experience in 1977 was a little rough.

“My first experience is getting lost in trying to find Pascagoula, MS,” McIngvale said with a laugh.

But, he found it, and he learned the shipyard and its workers well.

“Every day you’re in this shipyard you see what you’re doing,” McIngvale said. “You see its importance, and you turn on the TV at night, and you see the result of your work.”

The longevity of service, he said, indicates a strong, supportive atmosphere.

“You don’t have to look out into the future to see the good work that the people you work with are doing,” McIngvale added. “It’s there for you every day.”

David Wooten is another 40-year veteran here. He started as a pipefitter, as did his father and grandfather. Now, he is a manager in central planning.

“The shipyard is what you make it. It really is,” Wooten said. “I had a conversation with my son’s soon-to-be fiance yesterday, and she’s like, ‘Well, I don’t think I want to go to the shipyard.’ And I’m like, ‘The shipyard is what you make it.’”

Like Wooten, Melia Sexton started out as a pipefitter.

“I enjoyed pipefitting, because I learned a trade,” Sexton said. “It was just something that I wanted to do. My dad was a pipefitter, and I kind of followed his footsteps.”

She’s done just about everything in between, including meeting her husband. Now, she’s a labor relations representative.

“They’ve opened many doors for me, and I've had lots of opportunities, and so, they’ve been good to me,” said Sexton.

At the celebration dinner, 374 master shipbuilders will be honored, representing almost 16,000 years of experience.

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