USS Tulsa Represents City Inside And Out

Wednesday, September 23rd 2015, 11:26 pm
By: Emory Bryan

When the USS Tulsa sets sail in a few years, the Navy ship won't just have Tulsa in big letters on the outside; it will have Tulsa all over the inside, as thousands of pieces of the ship are being made in Tulsa.

The catchphrase at U.S. Pioneer is Quality Runs Deep, and employees said the end user is always on their mind.

The company makes electrical housings and fixtures for the U.S. Navy, their only customer.

Lance Robertson is one of the welders at U.S. Pioneer working on products designed to last the life of a ship with perfect reliability.

"Every day we think about the men and women we have out there on those boats, every day," he said.

The company builds 1,000 different components in Tulsa, and many - like navigation lights - are used on ships like the Tulsa.

U.S. Pioneer President, Les Lapidus said, "Pretty much if you go on a ship, every brass box, every fuse panel, every incandescent light you see will be ours."

The company, and related predecessors, has a history with the Navy since 1936 - and with Tulsa since 1968.

9/15/2015 Related Story: U.S. Navy Secretary In Town To Celebrate Naming Of USS Tulsa

Employees work with stainless steel, titanium and brass - things that stand up to sea water.

"This is going to become an actuator for a door switch on the ship," said U.S. Pioneer Vice President, Seth Lapidus.

The company still uses some designs from the 1940s because they still work, but now they're made with exotic machine tools that make everything faster.

Seth Lapidus said, "Between those two machines we can pretty much cut anything."

But there's plenty of careful handwork, which is important, because the standard is high. Everything has to work, every time, no matter what.

That's why the Navy still uses fuse boxes, because fuses work when circuit breakers fail.

The U.S. Pioneer name, and Tulsa, is stamped on almost everything.

Seth Lapidus said, "If you're a sailor, you have your hands on something from Tulsa. Guaranteed, guaranteed."

U.S. Pioneer is one of the more prominent, but there are other Tulsa companies with contracts to build components for Navy ships. So when the Tulsa sails, plenty of local pride will go along with it.