PASCAGOULA, Miss. (NNS) -- After 14 months of upgrades and repairs, the Navy's "Determined Warrior" -- USS Cole (DDG 67), returned to the fleet and full active duty.
Cole, an Arleigh Burke-class AEGIS destroyer, departed Pascagoula, Miss., on April 19 and headed for its homeport in Norfolk, Va.
Cole arrived in Pascagoula for repairs on Dec. 13, 2000, following a terrorist attack in Yemen two months prior, which left 17 Sailors dead and 39 wounded.
"Today, we look forward," said Cmdr. Kevin Sweeney, Cole's commanding officer. "We look forward to heading home, returning to the fleet and getting back into the fight."
Family members of Cole Sailors joined Northrop Grumman Ship Systems' Ingalls Operations employees to send Cole back to the fleet at a pierside ceremony in Pascagoula.
Workers at Ingalls Operations conducted the repairs, which were overseen by the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair (SUPSHIP) Pascagoula. SUPSHIP Pascagoula is the on-site representative of Naval Sea Systems Command for assigned ship repair contracts awarded to the private sector.
The repair process, which cost about $250 million, included removing and replacing more than 550 tons of steel, replacing two, 27-ton main engines and modules, installing a new stern flap, which will increase the ship's speed and fuel efficiency, replacing three gas turbines generators, and installing new galley equipment.
"This was a challenging repair process, due to the complexity of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and the pace of the repair effort," said Capt. Phil Johnson, SUPSHIP Pascagoula. "The Navy/industry team set new benchmarks with this repair since certain portions of the repair, such as the removal and reinstallation of the starboard propulsion train, were conducted for the first time outside of new construction. The Navy/Northrop Grumman team's intimate knowledge of the Arleigh Burke was instrumental in achieving this success."
Seeing the finished ship brought out a lot of pride and emotion of shipyard workers and Sailors alike.
"It was a lot of hard work, but it paid off in the end," said IC3 Jeff Curan of Sewell, N.J., who volunteered for a transfer to Cole from USS Stout (DDG 55). "Getting Cole back to the fleet sends a message that we won't be defeated."
"We got Cole better than it was when it got here," said Ingalls Operations worker Tim Andrews. "There was a sense of urgency to get Cole back to service to show those who [attacked Cole] they couldn't put it down."
The repair effort concluded April 13, following a successful sea trial in the Gulf of Mexico, the ship's first underway period since October 2000.
Once Cole returns to Norfolk, the ship will enter a training cycle in preparation for its next deployment.
To learn more about USS Cole, go to http://www.cole.navy.mil. For more information on Naval Sea Systems Command, go to http://www.navsea.navy.mil.