PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- In a mark of tradition, Norfolk Naval Shipyard honored 183 graduates from its Apprentice program at Willet Hall in Portsmouth, Virginia, Nov. 1. The date also marked the shipyards 250th anniversary.
The keynote speaker for the evening was Vice Adm. Thomas Moore, Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command, who encouraged the apprentices on their future tasks by providing insight he gained from Adm. William H. McCraven, the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command.
"McCraven said, if you want to change the world, start off by making your bed every morning and you will have accomplished the first task of the day," said Moore. "This will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed."
The graduates, representing 25 trades across the shipyard, successfully completed a four-year training program, which includes academics, trade theory and on-the-job experience. Upon graduation, the apprentices received a Technician Career Studies Certificate and were converted to the journeymen level of their trade.
The class boasted 103 honor students, including valedictorian Joshua Cosden, a Shipfitter from the NNSY Structural Department. The Princess Anne graduate finished the apprentice program with a 3.95 GPA, which also earned him an early promotion.
The shipyard commander, Capt. Scott Brown congratulated the graduates for embarking on a career requiring both skill and service.
"Four years ago, you volunteered to enter into a significant and honorable profession," said Brown. "We are a team whose profession is responsible for the foundation of our Navy's readiness - ensuring its greatest assets can go where they are needed and accomplish what they must to keep our country safe and prosperous."
Although the first organized apprentice program was established at the shipyard in the 1800s it was not officially stood up until 1913 when the age to apply began as young as 15. This year marks the 104th anniversary of NNSY's Apprentice Program, one of the most historic and honored apprentice programs in the nation.
Today, the program has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor, in partnership with the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship (ACA), as a 21st Century Registered Apprenticeship Trailblazer and Innovator.
The history of the shipyard dates back to 1767 when it was known at the time as Gosport Shipyard under the British flag. Pre-dating America and the U.S. Navy, the shipyard has also flown under the Virginia, Confederate States of America and United States of America flags and includes many firsts such as the building of the first dry dock, battleship and aircraft carrier to name a few.
From its important past, to its vital future, the shipyard symbolizes America's strength. Those found inside its gates encompass its heritage and future and serve their country with honor and pride.
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