Ingalls honors new master shipbuilders
Finally hitting the 40 year service mark, Ingalls Shipbuilding honored 87 inductees as master ship builders with a special dinner tonight.
Like any given day, the air is filled with sounds of drills and sparks fly as Ingalls Shipyard workers ply their trades, all part of a much bigger mission. Something the shipyard’s team of 374 master builders knows all too well. This week, 87 new inductees will join their ranks, an elite class of workers with 40 years or more of experience working at the shipyard. Jim McIngvale is one of them. “It’s been a great place to work, great shipyard, great company. I will be honest when I say that when I came here in 1977 I had no idea I would be here 40 years.”
A good run indeed, wrought with challenges, benchmark triumphs and even tears, especially in the wake of the damaged USS Cole pulling into the shipyard after a 2000 terrorist attack in Yemen killed 17 sailors and wounded 39 others. “That was a cry moment,” said McIngvale, “Yes it was. I don’t know of anybody who saw that ship come in that didn’t get a tear in their eye.”
After 14 months of repairs and upgrades, the USS Cole set sail once again, back in the fight. Also memorable is each employee’s first day on board at the shipyard. Labor relations representative Melia Sexton said, “Construction of DD units, I mean wall to wall. It was like intimidating and scary because I never knew how a ship was built from the start to the end.”
David Wooten, manger 3 Production/Central Planning, said, “The first night on the job they take me down and get me with this fitter and he was a rough old character. I remember that much. Of course, we had flashlights. Well, he did. I don’t think I did because I was new. I didn’t know I needed a flashlight. So, we sat in the dark for four hours and talked.”
Inductees agree that being here the past 40 years at Ingalls is like being with family. “You meet good people. You work with good people. They’ve enabled me to build a good life for myself and my family,” said McIngvale.