Ingalls Workers Take Pride In Newly Repaired USS Cole

A somber reminder of the terrible when terrorists blasted a hole in the side of the USS Cole now hangs on the wall of the mess deck - the American flag that flew on the Cole's stern. The bomb damage was widespread, but now the Cole looks like a brand new ship.

"I think the work the shipyard has done has been just top rate," Cole sailor Scott Boger said. "Just in the last three months, it's gone from a major industrial environment to a completely habitable, seaworthy, combat ready, fighting vessel."

"Just to look at it now, it's amazing. I can't believe the work Ingalls put into this because when I saw it I thought there was no way we could be ready to get out of here on time," fellow sailor Kimberly Glover said.

John DeAngelis was a magnet for the media because he is one of the few crew members who was on board when terrorists attacked.

"The shipyard has done a fantastic job, absolutely fantastic. I was here in January walking around in some of the spaces, and you can't tell it's the same ship at all," DeAngelis said.

The shipyard's president says the compliments reflect a work ethic that is second to none.

"When they're working on a cause as important as the USS Cole, they're even more dedicated than they might otherwise be, but all the shipyard workers at Ingalls are dedicated, hardworking people and the Cole is just another milestone of the accomplishments of this great crew," Northop Grumman Ship Systems President Philip Dur said.

In the year and a half the Cole has been here at Ingalls, 700 workers put her back together. While the workers say they're proud of the job they've done to prepare the ship for duty once again, they say when she leaves Friday, it will be bittersweet.

"It is a sad feeling, but it's also a sense of achievement and accomplishment, especially when we were on trials and felt the ship actually underway and working like a new ship should," Ingalls worker Stephen Janowski said.

"You get attached to it, and we're anxious for it to leave and get back over there to do payback, but it's been a job that's been coveted by Ingalls guys," Billy Dungan said.

"It's part of us," Kent Ware said. "We hate to see it go, but yet we're proud to see it go back and serve our country."

The Cole leaves Ingalls Friday morning headed back to its Norfolk, Virginia homeport to re-join the Atlantic Fleet. The Cole is expected to arrive back in Norfolk on April 25th.