PHIPPSBURG, Maine — Among dozens who braved the bitter wind at Fort Popham on Monday morning to watch the future USS Monsoor head out to builders’ trials were a number of past and current employees of Bath Iron Works, many who were there to watch the “stealth” destroyer they worked on sail away.
“It’s just so ugly!” Denise Letourneau said, laughing as she shielded her eyes from the sun.
Letourneau, who retired in 2015 after 30 years at the shipyard — 20 of them as an electrician — worked on the future USS Michael Monsoor before she retired. On Monday, she watched as it sailed past Fort Popham, and joined other spectators who waved at the BIW and U.S. Navy employees lining the back of the stealth destroyer.
Current preservation techs Carl Pinkham, 43, of Lisbon, Jesse Shaw, 44, of Lewiston, and Christine Estabrook, 31, also of Lewiston, took Monday off so they could watch the sail-away. They walked from the fort to the nearby beach, jockeying for the best view.
The trials are required to test the vessel’s systems and operations as part of a lengthy process the shipyard must complete before the Navy accepts ownership of the destroyer.
BIW spokesman David Hench would say only that the trials would last “several days.” The ship carries BIW employees and representatives of the Navy.
The future USS Michael Monsoor is named for a Navy Seal who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for heroism in Iraq in 2006. It is the second of three Zumwalt-class destroyers built at Bath Iron Works. The Navy truncated the line at three ships because of cost overruns. The first stealth destroyer, the USS Zumwalt, became Navy property in 2016. The third and final ship in the line, the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson, remains under construction at Bath Iron Works.
As the destroyer sailed past Popham into the open ocean, a thin woman in a neon green jacket jumped up and down, waving her arms at the crew lining the stern.
“Ana” — she declined to give her last name — was waving to her husband, who was looking for the green jacket.
“He knows what color I’m wearing,” she said. “I’m waving goodbye.”
Follow the BDN Bath-Brunswick on Facebook for the latest southern midcoast Maine news.