PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - A damaged American warship will drydock in Pascagoula so Ingalls shipyard workers can repair it. The Navy wants Ingalls employees to repair the USS Fitzgerald.
A statement from naval leaders says, "The Navy intends to award a contract initiating the restoration of USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) at Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) in Pascagoula, Mississippi, before the end of the fiscal year. The start date, scope, cost and the time required to fully restore the ship have not yet been determined."
A statement from Ingalls president Brian Cuccias says, "Ingalls and all of its employees regret the tragic circumstances that will bring the ship to Pascagoula, but it is an honor and a privilege to work with the Navy to return the ship to the fleet in the shortest time possible."
The USS Fitzgerald collided with a cargo ship in June. Seven sailors aboard the missile destroyer died. Its commander was later relieved of his duties.
The Fitzgerald sustained damage above and below the waterline near the ship's bridge.
The Navy often sends its damaged warships to Pascagoula. Shipyard workers have the necessary expertise to drydock military vessels, make the necessary repairs and get the ships back to their fleet. In recent years, Ingalls crew repaired the frigate USS Stark and the USS Cole. The Cole is in the same destroyer class as the Fitzgerald.
Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker released a news release about the Navy's decision to drydock the USS Fitzgerald in Pascagoula. "In looking to Ingalls for the rehabilitation of the Fitzgerald, our Navy has chosen wisely," Sen. Wicker wrote. "Mississippi shipbuilders completed repairs on the USS Cole in 2002, and I have every confidence we will achieve the same success with the Fitzgerald, enabling the ship to return to duty as soon as possible. Given the constraints already on the Navy's fleet, restoring the USS Fitzgerald cannot come soon enough."