PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - A ship built by shipbuilders in Pascagoula has joined the United States Navy's 7th Fleet.
The USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship, is moving closer to its new homeport in Japan. The amphibious assault ship will soon pull into Sasebo Naval Base.
It's a long way from where the ship got its start - in Pascagoula at Ingalls Shipyard. Shipbuilders in Pascagoula began building the ship back in the 1980's. It was one of eight LHD ships built at the shipyard through 2009.
Now, with the USS Wasp joining the 7th fleet, the military says its hoping the ship will help the Navy's stealth attack options in the Pacific Ocean. Since leaving Ingalls, the USS Wasp - a 40,000 ton, 844-foot long ship - has been upgraded to deploy the new Marine Corps F-35B stealth fighter jets.
The USS Wasp will serve as flagship of the fleet's amphibious forces, replacing the USS Bonhomme Richard, which has been homeported in Sasebo since April 2012. The bulk of the ships in the 7th Fleet's amphibious force are based in Sasebo.
The ship left Virginia in August, heading to Japan. However, it got diverted to several missions along the way, including assisting with disaster-relief efforts in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria.