Home Americas US destroyer Fitzgerald sailing home three years after fatal collision

US destroyer Fitzgerald sailing home three years after fatal collision

USS Fitzgerald repaired after collision
PASCAGOULA, Miss. (June 13, 2020) The guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) prepares to depart Huntington Ingalls Industries, Ingalls Shipbuilding division's Pascagoula shipyard June 13. Photo: US Navy via HII

US Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) got underway from Huntington Ingalls Industries’s Pascagoula shipyard on June 13 to return to her homeport in San Diego.

The destroyer is returning home almost exactly three years after the fatal collision off Japan on June 17, 2017, which claimed the lives of seven US Navy sailors.

Fitzgerald collided with commercial tanker ACX Crystal and sustained damages below the waterline, which flooded machinery and crew berthing spaces. The ship sustained further damages as it was being loaded onto a heavy load carrier for her transport from Japan to the US.

The sail away reflects more than two years’ worth of effort in restoring and modernizing. To restore the impacted spaces to full operations and functionality, various hull, mechanical and electrical (HM&E), combat system (CS) and command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C5I) repairs were completed. These repairs ranged from partial to complete refurbishment of impacted spaces, to replacement of equipment such as the radar and electronic warfare suite. According to the navy, the ship also received HM&E, combat system and C5I modernization upgrades.

US Navy photo of the damages sustained by USS Fitzgerald during the collision

“Today the ‘Fighting Fitz’ is returning to the Pacific Fleet as one of our nation’s most capable warfighting platforms, marking a significant step in her return to warfighting readiness,” said Rear Adm. Eric Ver Hage, director, Surface Ship Maintenance and Modernization and commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center. “The Fitzgerald sailors, our navy project teams and the men and women of Ingalls put forth a tremendous effort to restore the ship to fighting shape and did so on schedule.

Due to the extent and complexity of the restoration, both repair and new construction procedures were used to accomplish the restoration and modernization efforts.

The Fitzgerald crew completed multiple training and certification events, such as navigation assessment and light off assessment (LOA), to ensure the crew was at peak readiness to operate the ship as it returns to homeport.

ProPublica has a must-read piece on the causes of the collision and everything that took place in the aftermath.