NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- The USS Cole returned to its home port Thursday a stronger, better ship than when a terrorists' bomb ripped it open and killed 17 of its sailors a year and a half ago in Yemen.
The destroyer underwent $250 million of repairs over 14 months at Northrop Grumman's Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., then began the trip home to Norfolk Naval Station last week.
A steady rain fell as several hundred people waited under tents in a parking lot at the base. As the ship came into view, people began waving American flags and snapping pictures.
Ronald W. Francis drove five hours from his home in North Carolina to honor the memory of his daughter, Lakeina Monique Francis, 19, a mess management specialist who died in the bombing.
"My daughter is part of the ship. I want to visualize what she was doing on the ship," Francis said.
John Clodfelter, of Mechanicsville, Va., father of slain hull technician Kenneth Clodfelter, 21, went to Mississippi to see the ship depart and drove to Norfolk to see it dock.
"It's important that the Cole comes back. I want very much to let those people that did this know that they haven't gotten away with it," said Clodfelter, fighting back tears.
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