Saturday, the Navy commissioned the destroyer USS Pinckney, named after a World War II hero from Beaufort. The ceremony took place in Port Hueneme, California. WTOC attended the ceremony, which had all the pomp and circumstance of a graduation. You could tell how excited the entire crew was, especially with everything they've been through.
"Today was the culmination of two years of hard work," said CPO Frank Migliaccio. "Literally, my blood, sweat and tears are on this ship."
The sailors aboard the Navy's newest destroyer celebrated its commissioning with 5,000 of their friends and family members. And even had special guests fly in from Beaufort, none more important than their namesake's widow, Henrietta Pinckney.
The USS Pinckney had already formed a relationship with Henrietta, but over the last few months, that relationship has grown a lot closer. "They're my grandchildren," Henrietta said. "They're all my grandchildren, I adopted all of them, including the captain."
A big part of that bond was the fallout from the Pinckney's biggest test, an accident on the way to Beaufort for a memorial in honor of William Pinckney. The wreck killed three sailors, sent 70 to the hospital and cemented Henrietta's grandmother status.
"She inspired us, especially the sailors that were hurt," said CDR Bob Byron. "She visited each and every one of them in the Low Country, in the hospitals they were in, I can't say enough about Henrietta Pinckney."
Their flag's been raised, the first watch set, and the captain's assumed command. Now the crew's ready to move on to the next stage in the ship's progression, as a group. "We are shipmates for the rest of our lives," said CDR Byron. "That's awesome."
All but 11 of her crew was able to make it to the commissioning, with several still in the hospital recovering from the wreck.