PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Outlined against the sun, the USS Fitzgerald painted a patriotic picture of American strength as it churned through the water, heading to the Port of Pascagoula.
The U.S. Navy destroyer is arriving at Ingalls Shipyard Friday morning. There, shipbuilders are ready to begin repairs on the ship, which suffered extensive damage during a collision in the Sea of Japan last June. Seven sailors were killed in that collision.
Dozens of people gathered at the Point, waving American flags, as the the battered ship chugged into port. Once there, the vessel will be removed from the transport ship, which has carried it halfway around the globe, right to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The ship's arrival comes only days after the Navy announced Tuesday that it was seeking negligent homicide charges against four officers of the Fitzgerald at the time of the collision, including the then-commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson.
The June 17 collision with a Philippine-flagged container ship off Japan caved in parts of the Fitzgerald above and below the waterline. Water gushed into berthing compartments, killing the sailors. Its hull was punctured twice more in November as it was loaded aboard a transport ship. The transport ship sailed Dec. 9.
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."