Category: Industry News

Machining Apprentices Learn while they Earn

Article by Beth Ann Miller for the Daily American in Somerset, Pennsylvania November 1, 2021


Three Somerset County tradesmen are advancing their machining skills as they learn to make some of the critical components that keep the U.S. Navy’s ships afloat and operating at standard speed.

Logan Miller, 23, of Meyersdale, Thomas Walters, 19, of Listie and Ethan Birth, 18, of Berlin, are participating in a new apprenticeship program at Global/SFC Valve, in Somerset, which manufactures standard valves and components used on U.S. Navy ships, including the U.S.S. Somerset.

Global/SFC Valve received approval from the state last year to start an apprenticeship program, company President Linda Heining said. On Oct. 15, the company was awarded a $21,203 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development’s Pre-Apprentice and Apprenticeship Grant Program.

The grant covers the costs involved for Global/SFC Valve to offer classroom and on-the-job training to these three apprentices, with coursework supplied by the National Tooling and Machining Association – University, aka NTMA-U.

Becoming a journeyman machinist

Each of the three men are in the first year of their training.  Miller and Walters were hired by Global/SFC Valve in 2020 and started their training last year.  Birth was hired in July of 2021 and started his training shortly thereafter.

The four-year NTMA-U program requires each apprentice to complete 568 hours of classroom instruction and 8,000 hours of machining time, said Sherry Abel, training facilitator at Global/SFC Valve.

“What makes this program very special is in three (more) years, these gentlemen will get their journeyman papers through the state of Pennsylvania,” she said.  “It’s like a four-year (college) degree – and they’ll be machinists (level) 3 also.  If they are successful through the program, every year the company increases their pay as well.”

An apprenticeship program has been a longtime goal for the company, Heining said.  Former CEO and President Bob Kirst saw similar programs offered by other companies and said he wanted to create something there.

“It was always Bob’s dream to have an apprenticeship program, but unfortunately he passed away before it got to be implemented,” she said.

Learning the trade

Miller, Walters, and Birth all learned the basics of machining in high school, through the Somerset County Technology Center’s machine technology program. Walters and Birth also worked part-time at Global/SFC valve during high school, through a co-op program with the technology center.

“Being we got them from the (SCTC) program, they did have some basic skills coming in,” said Skip Bryner, Global/SFC Valve production manager.  “So, you’re not starting at zero.  They come in with good knowledge and a desire to learn. 

“With what they learned there, they come in and they’re definitely going to be a lot faster coming up to speed.  There’s improvement with all three of them and they’re working with somebody all the time to become more independent on their own.”

Learning while earning a paycheck

As apprentices, these three men have an opportunity to advance their education and ear their journeyman machinist papers while working fulltime and earning a paycheck, along with company benefits like health insurance coverage and a retirement savings plan.

“You can go to a university and get the same journeyman papers,” Birth said. “in fact, there are three schools in Pittsburgh that offer a fairly similar program and you get the same journeyman paper from the same institute.  But the people that are going to those universities and getting that same degree, they don’t get the benefits, they don’t have the medical benefits for those four years, they don’t get the paycheck for those four years – and they have debt (when they graduate).

“Going into this apprenticeship, we’re getting paid, we don’t have any debt, we have full medical benefits and we’re getting retirement benefits.”

Investing in their workforce

Heining said the apprenticeship program also enables Global/SFC Valve to invest in its future workforce by hiring and training three young tradesmen who came highly recommended by their SCTC instructor.

“It absolutely helps our workforce,” she said.  “We now have three young guys (working).  A lot of our machinists are getting older and are getting read to retire, so we have some replacements.

“The manufacturing industry has been talking about this for years, that ‘Hey, your workforce is getting older, you need to get some younger people involved.’ And that’s when we came up with the apprenticeship program.”

Bryner added: “It’s all an investment in the employees and the company.”

In addition to these three new apprentices, Global/SFC Valve is training two long-time employees – each with about 20 years of work experience – who wanted to earn their journeyman machinist papers.  They are expected to graduate next June.

“They only needed two years (of study) because they already had the experience,” Heining said.

Supporting Naval operations

Global/SFC Valve has 50 employees, including machinists, welders, inspectors, and assemblers.  Together, these employees produce components that help the U.S. Navy to operate its fleet of nearly 300 active ships and submarines, send tankers to refuel ships at sea and safety transport military personnel throughout the world.

“It’s not just one person working on an entire valve, it’s a whole group of people with team effort putting time an effort into the part,” Walters said.

Heining added: “If one of the valves fail, it could crash the submarine.  Lives are at stake with the products that we make.  We’re considered a critical supplier to the Navy”

The three apprentices said they’re learning a lot from their training and are thankful for the apprenticeship opportunity.

“I went ahead with it because it’s going to be more helpful for me in the company, to learn more about the trade,” Miller said. “It will make me a better machinist, more valuable to the company.”

Walters added: “It means that I get to learn more and it’s helpful for the company, because the better I am at doing my job and learning my job, the better the company is.”

Birth agreed and added that he’s proud to pursue a career that supports the nation’s military.  He mentioned that his brother is currently serving in the U.S. Army. “I wanted to be a mechanical engineer in the Air Force…but I wouldn’t be able to serve,” he said. “This is one of the reasons I decide to come here. I’m not able to serve but at least this way, one, it’s a great company (to work for) and two, it’s making valuable parts for the men and women that are serving and makes their life easier.”


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US Navy's Most Unique Ship Looks Like Noah's Ark

The U.S. Navy’s most unique ship is headed from Mississippi to Japan. Named APL 67, this brick-shaped ship is known as a berthing barge and is quite similar to Noah’s Ark.

This special vessel has been designed to accommodate sailors when their warships are temporarily uninhabitable.

The APL 67 is grey white. It is 267 feet long and 68.7 feet wide. It rises about four stories above the water and is primarily featureless.

Its enormous size has led many to compare it to Noah’s Ark. (The Ark, was considerably huge 525 feet and 87 feet wide measurements.)

VT Halter Marine, an American shipbuilding company, constructed it in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Presently, it is travelling to San Diego Naval Base and will then travel across to Fleet Activity Yokosuka, Japan. Fleet Activity Yokosuka across the Pacific Ocean is home to the Seventh Fleet of the U.S. Navy.

The ship has no engine, sensors, or weapons. It is most like to never leave the port. But it can still accommodate a total of 74 officers and 537 enlisted personnel on board. Sailors will stay on the barge for short periods while their assigned ships are undergoing maintenance work.

The vessel will be a favourable temporary residence for crew members who need to live nearby the port for ant inter-deployment training cycles or respond immediately to emergencies. The barge is also towable to any new location and put up as living quarters for the sailors.

For instance, when the ship goes to Yokosuka, Japan, the Navy will not have to seek out 300 hotel rooms for the crew. It can easily act as a floating hotel. In addition to that, the barges are also usable for humanitarian purposes and many other temporary projects.

The U.S. Navy hold several barges across the globe. APL 67 is one such barge of the four that is specifically built for the Navy. It is constructed by VT Halter Marine.

Article by: MI News Network - July 26, 2021

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She Was a Pioneering Navy Submarine Officer. Now She's Headed to Space

Lt. Cmdr. Kayla Barron, one of the first women to serve on a Navy submarine, is now one step closer to being one of the first women to walk on the Moon.

Barron, 33, who commissioned as a Navy officer in 2010, was selected by NASA out of a pool of approximately 18,000 people to join the 2017 astronaut candidate class.

"I think I've been lucky to be in the right place at the right time for some of these big changes, the submarine force being a great example. They opened the community to women during my senior year at the Naval Academy, allowing me to volunteer to serve in that community," Barron said.

She would ultimately serve on the Ohio-class ballistic submarine Maine, where she'd complete three patrols in the job of division officer.

For her first spaceflight, Barron will serve as a mission specialist for the SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station. The mission is slated for launch "no earlier than Sunday Oct. 31," according to a NASA Commercial Crew Program post.

In addition to the upcoming SpaceX Crew-3 mission this fall, Barron is also set to take part in NASA's Artemis program, which aims to "send the first woman and next man to the Moon" by 2024.

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Global SFC/Valve Corporation is taking part in the ACIBC Action Days.

ACIBC represents more than 2,000 businesses from 46 states that supply parts, equipment and services for the construction and maintenance of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers.  Established in 2004, ACIBC seeks to preserve the strenght of the aircraft carrier force and promote the value of the aircraft carrier industrial base as a vital part of the nation's overall defense structure. 


Picture and Information taken from ACIBC website.

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USS Gabrielle Giffords

A Timeline of USS Gabrielle Giffords’ 17-Month Deployment

Gabrielle Giffords recently completed the longest and busiest deployment since the LCS program was overhauled and deployments restarted in 2019. Below is a timeline of events based on information provided by LCS Squadron 1 and from USNI News coverage of the deployment:

  • September 2019: USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) departed its homeport of San Diego, Calif. (Gold Crew).
  • October 2019: Gabrielle Giffords launched the Naval Strike Missile during exercise Pacific Griffin, a bilateral exercise with the Republic of Singapore Navy in U.S. 7th Fleet.
  • November 2020: Gabrielle Giffords conducted freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.
  • February 2020: Gabrielle Giffords conducted a crew swap (Gold Crew turned ship over to Blue Crew).
  • April 2020: Gabrielle Giffords participated in a bilateral exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
  • May 2020: Gabrielle Giffords conducted presence operations near Panamanian-flagged drill ship West Capella, during a standoff between Malaysian and Chinese forces over exploring natural resources in the region.
  • May 2020: Gabrielle Giffords participated in a bilateral exercise with the Republic of Singapore Navy.
  • June 2020: Gabrielle Giffords participated in a bilateral exercise with the JMSDF.
  • July 2020: Gabrielle Giffords conducted a crew swap (Blue Crew turned ship over to Gold Crew).
  • October 2020: Gabrielle Giffords conducted a passing exercise (PASSEX) with El Salvadoran naval counterparts in U.S. 4th Fleet.
  • October 2020: Gabrielle Giffords worked with the “Winged Warriors” of 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment to complete MH-60L Black Hawk flight deck landing qualifications.
  • November 2020: Gabrielle Giffords participated in UNITAS, the world’s longest running maritime exercise, which included nine nations and 13 warships.
  • December 2020: Gabrielle Giffords interdicted a low-profile vessel carrying 6,300 pounds of cocaine, making it the largest LPV drug interdiction of the year.
  • January 2021: Gabrielle Giffords returned to San Diego.

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