PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - American Flags blew in the wind and crowds of Ingalls shipbuilders lined the banks in Pascagoula Thursday. They gathered to watch the William P. Lawrence Ship and its 300 member crew sail away.
"Oh yes, this is a great feeling," one shipbuilder said.
The 510 foot ship slowly passed by the men and women who built it, including James Sutterfield. He admitted it was tough saying goodbye to the ship.
"I hate to see it go. You work so close with the sailors on board, and you build a bond with them and it makes the work a lot easier."
The warship is part of the DDG 51 class. Ingalls Shipbuilding has built 28 of the Aegis Guided Missile Destroyers.
"It is a big expensive tool, and when it is operated like it needs to be, it will save a lot of lives."
Shipbuilder Roy Smith couldn't agree more. The vessel is so powerful it can conduct peacetime presence and crisis management operations. The ship can also simultaneously fight air, surface and subsurface battles.
"This is a proud moment," Smith said. "This has been a good program for us. Now since we have gone back to Ingalls, I hope the other programs are the same way."
As the megaship headed east to be commissioned in Mobile, the shipbuilders waved goodbye, knowing they have contributed to helping fight the war on terror.
"If we didn't have these ships, terrorists would be right here in Pascagoula."
The ship bears the name of William P. Lawrence, a late Vice Admiral who was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for six years.