February 15, 1977 - Maritime Reporter and Engineering News

Newport News Shipyard Apprentice School Graduates First Women

The Apprentice School of Tenneco's Newport News Shipbuilding recently graduated the first women apprentices in its 57-year history.

The three women, Debbie Ann Eriksen, Karen Jean Morrison and Sherry Rebecca Skinner, were among the 157 apprentices graduating in this year's class. Two of the women — Ms. Eriksen and Ms. Morrison — were in Atomic Design, while Ms. Skinner was in Hull Design. Ms. Eriksen also served as the student body's first female president.

The class represents 17 crafts and seven design areas, ranging from Patternmaker and Pipefitter to Toolmaker and Marine Designer.

The apprentices come from 14 states, as distant as California and Massachusetts.

The acceptance of the first female apprentice in January 1972 broke a 3,939-male tradition stretching back to the official opening of the Apprentice School in 1919. More than 4,000 students have graduated since that time.

The shipyard's apprentice program itself is more than 80 years old, dating back to 1894. Grad- uates since that time number 4,730, and include three shipyard vice presidents and more than 1,700 employees still with the company, many in key managerial positions.

The Apprentice School currently has 713 students, including 18 women.

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