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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Feb. 26, 2018)--Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII) hosted commencement exercises on Saturday for 148 graduates of the company’s Apprentice School at Newport News Shipbuilding. The ceremony was held at Liberty Baptist Church Worship Center in Hampton.

In her first commencement as president of Newport News Shipbuilding, Jennifer Boykin discussed the role the company’s newest shipbuilders will play in building its future.

“It’s such an exciting time to be a shipbuilder,” Boykin said. “We are transforming how we build ships, how we run our business and how we improve the work experience for all of our people.

“We are working smart every day to innovate, to rethink and reinvent the business of shipbuilding,” she said. “Today, we are moving forward, committed to building a future focused on people and technology—not just for today’s workforce, but for our children and our children’s children.”

Gary Lee Smith II, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, received the Homer L. Ferguson Award, which recognizes the apprentice graduating with the highest honors. A maintenance electrician, Smith completed the Advanced Shipyard Operations Program and Frontline FAST, a leadership development training program for potential frontline supervisors.

“Whether you realized it or not, we were all being taught how to be future leaders of the company,” Smith said. “We need to take the reigns as we transition through this time in the company where so much knowledge is walking out the gate for the last time and so many fresh faces are coming through it for the first time. As we move everything from paper to digital, we must also grab that knowledge and store it for future.

“In doing this we will keep building the legacy of Newport News Shipbuilding and The Apprentice School well into the future,” he said.

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Homer L. Ferguson Award recipient Gary Lee Smith II addresses the 2017 graduating class of The Apprentice School, Feb. 24. Photo by John Whalen/HII

The following is a profile of the 2017 graduating class:

  • 77 completed an optional, advanced program, earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. The program includes coursework in subjects such as marine design, production planning, modeling and simulation, and marine engineering.
  • 67 earned honors, a combination of academic and craft grades that determine overall performance.
  • 49 completed Advanced Shipyard Operations Program, allowing them to continue their postsecondary education, expand their experience in waterfront operations and develop leadership skills to improve the quality and efficiency of production, manufacturing and maintenance processes.
  • 29 completed Frontline FAST, an accelerated skills training program for potential foremen.
  • 26 graduates are women.
  • 21 completed the program with a perfect 4.0 grade point average in the required academic curriculum.
  • 14 are military veterans or are currently serving in the Armed Services as reservists and guardsmen, representing more than 80 years of combined service representing every branch of the military.
  • 9 earned athletic awards, representing 36 seasons of varsity athletic competition.

About The Apprentice School

The Apprentice School accepts about 225 apprentices per year. The school offers four- to eight-year, tuition-free apprenticeships in 19 trades and eight optional advanced programs. Apprentices work a 40-hour week and are paid for all work, including time spent in academic classes. Through partnerships with Thomas Nelson Community College, Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University, The Apprentice School’s academic program provides the opportunity to earn associate degrees in business administration, engineering and engineering technology and bachelor’s degrees in mechanical or electrical engineering.

About Huntington Ingalls Industries

Huntington Ingalls Industries is America’s largest military shipbuilding company and a provider of professional services to partners in government and industry. For more than a century, HII’s Newport News and Ingalls shipbuilding divisions in Virginia and Mississippi have built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. naval shipbuilder. HII’s Technical Solutions division provides a wide range of professional services through its Fleet Support, Integrated Missions Solutions, Nuclear & Environmental, and Oil & Gas groups. Headquartered in Newport News, Virginia, HII employs nearly 38,000 people operating both domestically and internationally. For more information, visit:

Danny Hernandez
Director of Public Affairs
(202) 580-9086
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