Faces of the Shipyard:
African American Contributions to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard

African Americans have a rich history in Kitsap County, the City of Bremerton, and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Individuals migrated to the area in search of new opportunities as early as the 1860s and continue to play important roles within the region today.

This exhibit highlights African American contributions to the Shipyard from 1910 to 2009. The featured individuals contributed to inventions such as the underwater arc cutting process, the portable smelting pot, and improved ways of wastewater disposal. They worked as Riggers, Riveters, and Laborers and served in leadership positions within the Shipyard and Bremerton community. Their commitment enables the Shipyard to serve the U.S. Navy and contributes to a higher quality of life for Bremerton residents.

1960 – 1985

The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard offered equal employment opportunities before mandated to do so by law in 1969. Shipyard Commander Floyd Shultz established the Shipyard’s Equal Employment Opportunity (E.E.O.) Committee in 1963. The committee advises the shipyard commander on matters affecting the implementation of E.E.O. policy in the hiring, selection, training, and promotion of employees

During the early 1980s, individuals established a local chapter of Blacks In Government (B.I.G.) in Bremerton. This national organization serves as a vehicle for African Americans in public service to organize around issues of mutual concern and use their collective strength to confront workplace and community issues. Many African American Shipyard employees actively participate in B.I.G.

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Debra Woodard

Debra Woodard was born and raised in Bremerton, WA. After high school, she attended Olympic College for half a year and then went on to Bremerton Business College. She began working at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in July of 1981 as a temporary clerk-typist. In 1983, the position was made permanent, and in the early 1990s, Woodard received a position as Supervisor. She is currently the Branch Manager for the Technical Data Center, Code 1141.

Loxie Eagans

JIn 1968, Loxie Eagans became the first Deputy Equal Employment Opportunity Officer (E.E.O.) at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Prior to this position, Eagans was a Shop 72 General Foreman I Tank Cleaner. He began working for the Shipyard in 1947. As Deputy E.E.O. Officer, Eagans made significant progress in affirmative employment. He recruited throughout the county and increased the representation of African Americans as well as the representation ofall races at the shipyard. He served as Deputy E.E.O. Officer at the shipyard until his death in 1981.

In addition to his E.E.O. work, Eagans was President of Bremerton’s N.A.A.C.P. chapter and served on various committees for the N.A.A.C.P.’s Northwest Area. He was also Deacon at the Sinclair Baptist Church and worked closely with young people through Sunday school and youth groups. In 1971, Eagans received an Outstanding Service award for his work in the Bremerton community.


Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Commander R. B. Horne Jr. proclaimed an Equal Employment Opportunity Awareness Week during the week of November 16, 1981

Note: Original image distorted

Blacks in Government (B.I.G.) Meeting

B.I.G. was established as a national organization in 1975. The group responded to the needs for African Americans in public service to organize around issues of mutual concern and use their collective strength to confront workplace and community issues. It was viewed as essential to the Black civil service employee, based on a wide assortment of racially motivated problems. B.I.G. promotes equity in all aspects of American life, excellence in public service, and opportunity for all Americans. And "all" means all. B.I.G. is inclusive just like the N.A.A.C.P. and the National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives.

Blacks In Government (B.I.G.) Members

At first, B.I.G served as an umbrella organization that addressed only problems at the Federal level. However, it was soon determined that State, County, and Municipal Black employees faced the same type of employment problems. The Kitsap County Chapter of B.I.G. was charted in 1983 by Mae Carter, who was the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Equal Employment Opportunity Deputy at the time. Many African American Shipyard employees actively participate in B.I.G. Members in this photo are: (back row: Marty Crutcher, Phillip Clemonts, Roy Larson, Chet Atkins, Jim Driskell, Arthur Speight, James Jones) (font row: Dave Chavzes, Lydia Milling, Debra Woodard, Deborah Brown).

Larry C. Greene

Larry C. Greene began working at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard as an Engineer in the 1940s. He later became an Equal Employment Opportunity Officer for the Naval Supply Center, Puget Sound. Greene was an active member of N.A.A.C.P. and was elected President of Bremerton’s Chapter on several occasions. He also served at the national level for N.A.A.C.P.

Mildred Bass

The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard first employed Mildred Bass as a Laborer from 1943 to 1944. She left the shipyard in 1944, but returned in 1967 to work again as a Laborer in Shop 72.

Although she had the opportunity to accept other work in the Shipyard, Bass chose to remain a Laborer in Shop 72. She was promoted to Laborer Foreman in 1976 and was the first African American woman to hold the title of Foreman at the Shipyard. She remained in that position until her retirement.

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