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First time in US Naval history, a woman will command shipyard

Capt. Dianna Wolfson. (U.S. Navy/Released)
January 24, 2019

For the first time in U.S. Naval history, a woman will be in charge of a shipyard.

Capt. Dianna Wolfson will command the 128-year-old Puget Sound Naval Shipyard as the 50th leader to do so, Kitsap Sun reported.

Wolfson’s impressive credentials elevated her to take charge of 14,000 employees at the shipyard in Washington State.

“The shipyard is the Pacific Northwest’s largest naval shore facility and one of Washington state’s largest industrial installations,” according to Yahoo.

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“I am truly excited to be joining such a high performing team,” Wolfson said.

Wolfson served aboard the USS Carl Vinson and also led senior positions at two East Coast shipyards.

Capt. Howard Markle, who is being replaced by Wolfson, said, “The Navy could not have made a better choice.”

During the course of her career, she has been a strong advocate for females in the military. At the Sea Services Leadership Association — formerly the Annual National Women Officers Professional Association — Wolfson accepted the Capt. Joy Bright Hancock Leadership Award in 2001.

Wolfson is entering her new position at a time when the Navy is experiencing acquisition and growth.

While there has yet to be a woman at the helm, the Navy does have a rich history of female service thanks to women like Esther Bielmeier, who worked at the shipyard in 1917 and 1918 during WWI.

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A sculpture of Bielmeier decorates downtown Bremerton at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Memorial Plaza.

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard opened in 1891 as a naval station. During WWI, “25 submarine chasers, six submarines, two minesweepers, seven seagoing tugs, and two ammunition ships, as well as 1,700 small boats” were built at the shipyard, according to Global Security.

The shipyard primarily worked to restore damage to ships of U.S fleets and their allies during WWII.

When WWII began, Puget Sound was the leading navy yard in the Pacific because it was equipped to manage battleships.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, it was Puget Sound that repaired and reconstructed five out of six battleships that survived.

“Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is the largest and most diverse shipyard on the West Coast, as well as being the northwest’s largest naval shore activity,” Global Security added.

Today, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is able to repair and restore any U.S. Navy ship, regardless of its style or size.

The shipyard is currently home to a “nuclear aircraft carrier, two nuclear cruisers and three fleet support ships (two fast combat support ships (AOE), and one replenishment fleet tanker (AOR),” Global Security stated.

“Puget Sound Naval Shipyard has been distinguished as the Navy’s best installation worldwide and is the recipient of the 1991 Commander-in-Chief’s Installation Excellence Award,” said Global Security.