PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Pride was on full display Thursday at Ingalls Shipyard as the latest amphibious transport ship, the John P. Murtha, set sail from the yard. The $1.5 billion ship has been four years in the making, and is now the newest vessel in the Navy's fleet.
Sailors waved from the ship as they counted down the minutes to departure. The ship's commander, Capt. Kevin Parker said he has warm feelings for his crew.
"I've got a large number of sailors that have never even been underway before, just joined the Navy. And I'm just excited to be able to take them out and show them what a warship at sea looks like," Parker exclaimed.
He added the John P. Murtha's mission is an important one in a dangerous world.
"The ship is going to be based in San Diego, California, so probably in the western Pacific and the Arabian Gulf. But we can be sent anywhere in the world depending on where the President needs us."
Of course, this ship sailing off to San Diego would not be possible without the thousands of workers who put this ship together with the time and talent. And for them, it was an incredible source of pride. One is painter Mario Sanders.
"I've been on this ship a long time for a number of years and the sweet part of the Navy getting a fresh new vessel. The bittersweet part is seeing it go after being on it for so long," Sanders said.
Another is pipefitter Rhonda Clanton.
"I've been on this ship for four years, the entire time I've been at Ingalls. So I've seen it come a long way and I'm really proud of the end result."
Even though the workers aren't members of the military, they are still serving the country in another capacity, according to Ingalls President Brian Cuccias.
"These shipbuilders are really patriots. Not only are they great shipbuilders, but I think they are really American patriots, and that's all part of the equation. They are doing something bigger than just a job. Serving our country by delivering these great ships is a big part of that."
A big part indeed for a very big ship.
The John P. Murtha carries a crew of 400 and can deliver several hundred Marines and their equipment to hotspots across the globe. Before hearing to San Diego, the ship will be commissioned in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the late Senator Murtha's home state.