Shipyard ‘Ohana’ on Oahu
Pearl Harbor training program grooms apprentices for lifelong careers
By EDWARD LUNDQUIST, Special Correspondent
Commitment and Community
port the shipyard’s apprenticeship
It starts with marketing and
recruiting, said Steve Watanabe, the
apprenticeship coordinator. Prospective candidates can meet representatives of the different shops — including apprentices currently participating in the program — at the job fair
held each March.
“The best salespeople for our
apprenticeship program are the
other apprentices,” Watanabe said.
Lauryn-Mae Pang was “pushing out planes” for
Hawaiian Airlines at the Honolulu Airport. At 26, she
also had her own business, a Subway franchise in
downtown Honolulu. But she was looking for something more.
“I went to the [annual shipyard] job fair with
friends, and talked to people who represented all the
different trades and learned about what they do,” said
Pang, who has just finished her first year as an apprentice. “They were passionate about their work. It was
hard to see all of it and not want to be a part of it.
“The job fair helps you decide what shop you want
to work in,” she said.
While the shipyard recruits from high schools, the
majority of applicants are older than the typical high
school graduate. The average age of the class of apprentices each year is about 30 years old.
The program has become well known on Oahu.
“I met people in the program who had good jobs
and left those jobs to come to work at the shipyard,”
Pang said. “That said a lot. I looked at what I’d be
doing, and the commitment that was involved, and
decided that this is what I wanted.”
She now is a heavy mobile equipment mechanic
apprentice with the Lifting and Handling Department
of the Crane Maintenance Division — also known as
Code 730 or Shop 98.
Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard employs about 5,000 people, of
whom about 700 are military and the rest civilian workers.
■ Almost every family on Oahu has been touched by the shipyard.
■ Its apprenticeship program is key to delivering production
■ Program blends classroom instruction with on-the-job training.
Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard is not only strategi- cally important to the Navy, it is vital to Hawaii as the largest industrial employer in the state. It
also is a big ‘Ohana,’ the Hawaiian word for family.
The shipyard is Hawaii’s regional maintenance center
for the U.S. Navy, and one of four naval shipyards run by
Naval Sea Systems Command. It employs about 5,000
people, of whom about 700 are military and the rest
civilian workers. Most of them — 2,300 civilians and
200 military — work in the production department.
The other three government-owned shipyards are
Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va.; Puget
Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash.; and
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.
The community in a naval shipyard is very close, said
Robert Fogel, production resources manager. He worked
at Norfolk Naval Shipyard before coming to Hawaii, but
the Pearl Harbor work force has an even closer kinship
than other yards he has experienced, he said.
“We have a tight-knit family,” Fogel said.
With nearly 5,000 employees today — and literally
hundreds of thousands who have worked there during
the past 103 years — almost every family on Oahu has
been touched by the shipyard.
Finding new “family” members to fulfill the highly
technical work for the facility is a challenge. So a rigorous recruitment effort has been established to sup-