The Aegis guided missile destroyer USS Cole
is ready to return to the U.S. Navy Fleet following
a 14-month restoration project at Northrop Grumman Corporation's Ship Systems. The ship will depart Pascagoula today to return to her homeport in Norfolk, Va.
"Our team of shipbuilders has worked together with the U.S. Navy Supervisor of Shipbuilding, as well as the crew of this fine warship
, in an effort to bring her back to a combat-ready state and to return her to the fleet," said Dr. Philip A. Dur, Northrop Grumman corporate vice president and president of the company's Ship Systems sector. "Our shipbuilders have understood the importance of this project since the day Cole arrived, and because of their dedication and hard work -- side by side with our nation's great sailors -- this ship will now return to her place at the frontline of our deployed battle forces."
Following the terrorist attack in Aden, Yemen, Cole was transported to Northrop Grumman Ship Systems on the heavy lift ship Blue Marlin, and arrived in Pascagoula Dec. 13, 2000, after a six-week journey.
The repair and restoration process began shortly thereafter, and included returning the ship to her construction area for structural and system restoration, combat system upgrades, replenishment of ship storerooms and supplies, crew training and post-delivery testing. When the ship arrived in Pascagoula, Northrop Grumman's Ingalls Operations utilized Integrated Product Teams made up of all shipyard crafts to assess the damaged areas of the ship and to determine what areas needed to be removed and replaced. The teams were responsible for conducting the damage assessments to include marking up drawings to reflect damaged areas, identifying material requirements, identifying shop fabrications required, providing input to detail production schedules and assessing potential risks and recommending solutions to enhance production effectiveness. From these assessments came the overall plans and work tasks for the entire restoration project.
During peak production periods, as many as 700 Ship Systems employees were assigned aboard Cole. "It is a tribute to the employees of this company and the cooperation with their Navy counterparts that each task was successfully accomplished in a timely manner," said Dur. "Our Aegis Shipbuilding Program leads the industry -- from the employees who accomplish the preliminary designs and drawings to the painters in the shipyard who apply the final coat. In addition to delivering the finest new destroyers, we also provide the best in full service support to return ships such as the Cole back to the fleet as a more viable defense asset to our nation's military plan."
The ship was originally built in Pascagoula by the company's Ingalls Operations, and was delivered to the Navy in 1996. The company has delivered a total of 16 Aegis guided missile destroyers
to the Navy, with nine more ships under contract. Headquartered in Pascagoula, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems includes facilities in Pascagoula and Gulfport, Miss., as well as New Orleans, La. The sector, which currently employs more than 17,000 shipbuilding professionals, primarily in Mississippi and Louisiana, is one of the nation's leading full service systems companies for the design, engineering, construction, and life cycle support of major surface ships for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and international navies, and for commercial vessels of all types.