Friday morning, a U.S. Navy warship named America will set sail from Ingalls Shipbuilding. News 25 went onsite Thursday afternoon and found out what this particular ship means to the U.S. Navy.
After five years in the making, the U.S.S. America will leave the docks of Ingalls Shipbuilding Friday morning. Commanding Officer Robert Hall, the Captain of the U.S.S. America, says, “It has been a long process building a ship of this size and complexity. It takes a while. The crew has been training hard, they've been working long hours to get ready for tomorrow, so they're excited to be on the way.”
This ship is unique, being specifically designed to carry the latest in Marine Corps aviation. She is 844 feet long, 106 feet wide, with the ability to accommodate a 1,200 person crew and over 1,800 troops, and just like the U.S.S. America, many members of the crew are first timers. Hall also says, “Over half the crew, this will be their first trip out. It's pretty exciting to see them, their motivation and their excitement build as they get ready to get underway. They worked very hard and it'll just be great to see all that work go to good use.”
The ship will leave Pascagoula Friday and take a trip around South America before making its way to California, where it will be commissioned. Patrick Caldwell, a Fire Controlman, says, “Well, they'll be some growing pains going through it, but with all the training we've been doing and all the prepping work with our upper chain of command, I feel like we're ready.” Not only are the sailors ready to leave Friday, they are also excited about being a part of history by bringing a new war ship to the U.S. Navy. Ricky Williams, a Hospital Corpsman, says, “It's being a part of history. Our names will be forever etched in stone on the U.S.S. America.”
The last time a U.S. warship was named America was during the Vietnam War. Hall also says, “Well, a ship named after our great country here is really something special. It's particularly an honor to be assigned to this ship’s crew.”
It's been quite some time at Ingalls for these sailors, but they're ready to move on to greener pastures or in this case, bluer waters. Caldwell closes, “Manning the rails, dress whites, saying goodbye to everybody, and on to new adventures and doing great things.”
There will be a commissioning ceremony for the ship in California on October 11th. The public is invited to wave the U.S.S. America off Friday morning at Ingalls.