The USS Fitzgerald entered dry dock at a United States Navy base in Yokosuka, Japan to continue repairs and assess damage following its June 17 collision with the merchant containership ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) entered dry dock July 11 at the Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka base. With the destroyer out of water for the first time since the accident, the extent of damage to the destroyer below the waterline became evident. Prior to its arrival in dry dock, divers welded a large steel patch to cover the hole caused by bulbous bow of the containership.
“We used two of our yard tugboats and four pusher boats to move Fitzgerald from Berth 12 to the dry dock,” said FLEACT Yokosuka’s Harbor Movements Officer, Chief Warrant Officer Galo Moreira.
“It usually takes three boats to “push” a DDG into dry dock,” said Moreira. “Today we used the additional boat as an extra safety boat to make sure we didn’t cause more damage to the Fitz.”
Once the ship was delivered Dry Dock #4, it was the responsibility of Yokosuka’s Ship Repair Facility-Joint Region Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) professionals to get the ship lined up correctly in the dry dock and start pumping out the water from the dock.
“Usually we can dock a ship in about seven hours,” said Lt. David Reinhardt, SRF-JRMC’s Docking Officer who oversaw the process. “Once the dock is dry, myself and the dockmaster and shop workers will go down and make sure that there is no abnormalities that we didn’t expect. The ship’s force will also do an inspection of the hull to make sure there is nothing there that we wouldn’t expect to see.”
Seven U.S. Navy Sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with the ACX Crystal in the early morning hours of June 17, causing extensive damage to the ship, flooding compartments where the Sailors slept.
The accident is subject to multiple investigations. Fitzgerald has been forward deployed to Yokosuka since September 2004 as part of U.S. 7th Fleet.
Navy officials are still assessing if repairs will be done in Japan or if the destroyer will be brought back to the U.S. for repairs.