USS Fitzgerald returning to homeport 3 years after deadly collision

The US Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) departed Huntington Ingalls Industries, Ingalls Shipbuilding division’s Pascagoula shipyard on June 13 to return to its homeport in San Diego.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) prepares to depart Pascagoula shipyard to return to her homeport in San Diego. Photo: US Navy

The sail away reflects more than two years’ worth of effort in restoring and modernizing the warship after it was heavily damaged during a collision in 2017 that claimed the lives of seven sailors.

In June 2017, USS Fitzgerald collided with Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

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“Today (June 13) 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,” Rear Adm. Eric Ver Hage, director, Surface Ship Maintenance and Modernization and commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center, said.

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; the ship also received HM&E, Combat System and C5I modernization upgrades.

Due to the extent and complexity of the restoration, both repair and new construction procedures were used to accomplish the restoration and modernization efforts. Throughout this restoration period, the US Navy made it a priority to ensure Fitzgerald returned to a peak state of warfighting readiness to contribute to an agile and dynamic fleet.

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.

Prior to departing Pascagoula for San Diego, Fitzgerald’s crew began a pre-movement sequester on May 23 in accordance with US Navy pre-deployment guidelines—compliance with Navy and CDC guidance is critical to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

DDG 62 is assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 1 and upon return to her homeport in San Diego, crew training and certifications will commence in support of Basic Phase Training.