Three Years After Fatal Collision, the USS Fitzgerald Rejoins the Fleet

Kyle Mizokami
Photo credit: U.S. Navy

From Popular Mechanics

  • The USS Fitzgerald was involved in a deadly 2017 collision with a commercial vessel that killed seven crewmembers.
  • The ship, transported back to Mississippi for repairs, underwent a three year repair and modernization effort.
  • Fitzgerald is now on its way to the new home port of San Diego, California.

The guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald is on its way to the new home port of San Diego, California. Heavily damaged in a 2017 collision with a civilian container ship, the ship was sent back to a U.S. shipyard for repairs. The Navy spent more than half billion dollars to repair and modernize the ship, about one quarter the cost of a new ship.

In 2017, the USS Fitzgerald collided with the commercial vessel ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan. The collision killed seven sailors and heavily damaged the starboard side of the ship. Fitzgerald was lifted onto the heavy load carrier M/V Transshelf and carried back to Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in the Gulf of Mexico.

Photo credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI - Getty Images

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) is one of two shipyards currently building Arleigh Burke class destroyers, of which Fitzgerald is an early example. HII repaired Fitzgerald’s hull and superstructure as well as internal spaces, and the Navy took the opportunity to also carry out a series of hull, mechanical, and electrical upgrades.

The ship’s Combat System and Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence systems were also upgraded. The ship’s weapon systems appear to be the same, consisting of a forward mounted Mk. 45 5-inch deck gun, 90 Mk. 41 vertical launch missile silos split between fore and aft sections, two Phalanx radar-guided close-in weapon systems, six Mk. 46 anti-submarine torpedoes, and at least two M240 medium machine guns.

The ship has already completed sea trials and certifications, and the crew was put into quarantine on May 23 to prevent any COVID-19 outbreaks at sea. The ship was originally part of the Seventh Fleet, based at Yokosuka, Japan, but for now will homeport at San Diego. It’s not clear if the ship will eventually return to Japan. According to U.S. Naval Institute News, the Navy cost of the repairs and upgrades was originally pegged at $368 million, later revised to $523 million.

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