USS Fitzgerald welcomed to new home in Pascagoula

USS Fitzgerald welcomed to new home in Pascagoula

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Some of the USS Fitzgerald's crew joined hundreds of others at Point Park to see the destroyer slowly make its way to the Port of Pascagoula.

Next week, it will be moved to Ingalls Shipbuilding to begin a two-year repair and upgrade.

It was a warm welcome for a wounded warrior. Yet, it was a bittersweet moment for everyone, including the ship's new captain, Garrett Miller.

"It's important we look forward, we remember the sacrifices they made and we make sure that we build this ship to get it back to where it needs to be, and out there doing what we do best in their memory," Miller said.

Seven sailors on this ship were killed last June in a collision off the Coast of Japan. The former captain now faces criminal charges. Despite the history, the ship's arrival marks a new day.

"We need to celebrate the fact that she's here," Miller said. "We need to celebrate the fact that she's going to get repaired and embrace the Gulf Coast here.

"We want to be a part of this community," he added. "We love the fact that all these people showed up here to welcome us here and you can't ask for a better day than that. So, it's great to be an American today."

Carla Castornia arrived early to find just the right viewing spot.

"Pascagoula and the whole Gulf Coast area, we're very patriotic and we love our military and we support them," she said. "We appreciate so much the sacrifices that are made by them and also by their families."

P.D. Smith, who worked as an Ingalls shipbuilder for 40 years, showed his pride for country and his former company.

"Other shipyards could have got it," he said. "But we got it."

Tiffani Demayo, Miller's fiancé, shares the competing emotions of the day.

"We look back and we - with heavy hearts - remember the tragedy," she said. "But we look forward to just a great future with our Fitz crew, rebuilding, bringing her back to life and making her the best darn destroyer in the U.S. Navy."

The USS Fitzgerald was built at Bath Iron Works.

Ingalls has a long history of repairing Navy ships. In recent years, Ingalls crew repaired the frigate USS Stark and the destroyer USS Cole.

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