AUGUST 15, 2012 — Austal USA has honored 15 graduates of its four-year apprenticeship program at a ceremony in which they received their certificates of completion and designation as Department of Labor Class A Journeymen. The graduating class consisted of six electrical journeymen, four pipe fitting journeymen, and five fabrication journeymen.
Class valedictorian Bill Ray Stroup, Jr. was presented with the "Ross Latapie Award of Excellence," named for Mr. Ross Latapie, a former apprentice who worked tirelessly to increase his knowledge of the electrician trade by completing extra classroom and laboratory assignments from his instructors. He currently holds the record for the highest Austal USA apprenticeship academic GPA of 4.0.
Commenting on the continuing success of the shipbuilder's apprenticeship program, Mr. Brian Leathers, Austal USA Interim President / CFO said, "This is a shining moment for these 15 graduates and their families. Austal USA is pleased with our ability to continually improve our workforce annually with the introduction of a new group of highly-trained production workers as a result of the success of this program."
Austal's apprenticeship program is certified by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Alabama Department of Post Secondary Education, and the Veteran's Administration. It is governed by the Department of Labor Standards of Apprenticeship for the respective trades of Pipefitter, Marine Electrician, Fabricator, and Fitout. The Alabama Department of Post Secondary Education has approved the four trade programs for the Veteran's Administration which means that all eligible veterans may now apply for and receive GI Bill benefits that were earned for military service. The Department of Labor requires that each candidate complete a minimum of 576 hours of classroom time and an additional 8,000 hours of on-the-job-learning over the four-year period.
Austal USA is a full-service shipyard offering design, construction and high-speed vessel service and repair. As Austal USA continues to expand its service and repair capabilities, the company is well-positioned for new business with engineering, test and trials capabilities, and a new waterfront facility all co-located on the Mobile Bay waterfront.
Austal is currently under contract with the U.S. Navy to build nine 103-meter JHSVs under a 10-ship, $1.6 billion contract and five 127-meter Independence-variant LCS class ships, four of which are a part of a 10-ship, $3.5 billion contract.
These two contracts will require Austal to increase its Alabama workforce to approximately 4,000 employees.