Stricken Destroyer USS Fitzgerald Leaves Drydock

Kyle Mizokami
Photo credit: U.S. Navy/HHI photo.

From Popular Mechanics

The missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald has left drydock and is floating on its own, nearly two years after the ship collided with a civilian merchant vessel. The June 2017 incident killed ten sailors and badly damaged the ship, forcing the Navy to bring it back to the United States for repairs. The ship has been under repair for more than a year and still has some ways to go before it can return to the fleet.

USS Fitzgerald collided with the tanker ACX Crystal, a Philippine-flagged container ship off the cost of Japan on the night of June 16, 2017. Fitzgerald suffered a huge gash on the starboard side, underneath the bridge and the SPY-1 radar system, as well as large hole in the hull underneath the waterline. The gash damaged or destroyed much of the ship’s electronics and the hole induced flooding below decks that drowned seven sailors in their berths.

Photo credit: U.S. Navy photo by David L. Stoltz

After the incident Fitzgerald returned to Japan under its own power, then was shipped via barge back to Pascagoula, Mississippi for repairs. Repairs, at times reconstruction, as some elements of the ship were rebuilt rather than repaired, began in January 2018. USNI News has a breakdown of the work done so far, which includes replacement of the radar and electronic warfare suit.

The ship was refloated on April 16th at Huntington Ingalls Industries where repairs will continue. According to Stars and Stripes, the Navy has previously announced the ship will return to service in January 2020. It seems likely that once the ship is ready for action it will return to the Japan-based U.S. Seventh Fleet.

Fitzgerald was the first of three NATO warships seriously damaged in collisions with commercial shipping over an eighteen month long period. The USS McCain collided with a merchant ship in the South China Sea in August 2017, and in November 2018, the Norwegian frigate Helge Ingstad ran into a tanker off the coast of Norway.

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