The crew of the U.S.S. Ticonderoga waived goodbye to their families as the guided missile cruiser drifted from its dock. The crew of 350 will have the honor of taking the historic ship out to sea for its final deployment.
"I'm honored to be attached to the ship because its got a lot of history behind it," said Sailor John McCormick.
"I know about the history of the Ticonderoga," said crewman Kevin Hooks. "I'm proud to be on board it, to serve and to lay her down."
The Ticonderoga does have a long history. It is the fifth ship to bear the famous name. This specific ship was the first AEGIS class guided missile cruiser built at Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula in 1983. It has participated in dozens of major international events including Desert Storm in 1990.
"We got a pretty good crew and I think we'll be able to give her a good last deployment," said Lieutenant Anthony Mortimer.
This deployment may not take the Ticonderago to the front line in the War on Terror but it will take it to the front line in the War on Drugs. During its six month deployment the ship and crew will participate in counter drug operations in South America where they will try to catch smugglers before they reach international waters. The Ticonderoga will also take part in training exercises with several South American countries.
Commander Glenn Zeiders said he and the crew have mixed emotions about their final deployment with the Ticonderoga.
"We all put a lot into getting the ship to where it is now. Right now we're just excited to deploy but I think whenever we get back from deployment everybody's going to feel a little down knowing we got to put her to rest," said Zeiders.