PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - It was a proud moment Friday morning for shipbuilders at Ingalls.
The DDG 117 USS Paul Ignatius is now officially in the hands of the U.S. Navy, but it’s not so easy to let it go.
“I recognize we gave it to the Navy,” said Donny Dorsey, ship program manager for the DDG 117. “But, it’s kind of mine, right? You spend a lot of hours out here. A lot of early mornings, lot of late nights and so, it’s yours, you know.”
Dorsey is like a father letting his child drive his beloved car.
“It’s going to leave. It’s going to belong to somebody else,” he said. “But we’ll always watch it and see where it goes because it’s ours. We built it.”
The guided missile destroyer is named after the Secretary of the Navy from 1967 to 1969.
During the ceremony, Commanding Officer Robby Trotter displayed a photograph taken on the day Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that Ignatius would be the ship’s namesake.
It was to serve as inspiration for the sailors.
“What I wanted them to understand is they are part of a legacy now that's going to start for the entire life of this ship,” Trotter said. “And it means something. It’s not just words that we say, but I want them to embrace the moment and embrace this great day that we have here.”
One of those sailors is Chief Petty Officer Roderic Phillips of Biloxi.
“This ship is pretty special to me, being that it’s been built down here in Pascagoula, Mississippi, my home state,” he said. “It’s the crew, mostly. The crew is what makes the ship.”
He might not be able to experience it on the high seas.
“I’m actually thinking about extending on here to make the first deployment, because right now I’m scheduled to leave right before it,” Phillips said. “So, yeah. It’s kind of a hard feeling to build a ship and watch it come to life and then not go on the maiden voyage for it.”
The ship will sail from Pascagoula in June to be commissioned in Fort Lauderdale on July 27.
Its homeport will be Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida.