The guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) has been relaunched and is now moored pier-side at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
The undocking milestone is the latest step in returning the destroyer to service following its collision with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan in 2017 that claimed the lives of seven Navy sailors.
Since the ship’s arrival in Pascagoula aboard a heavy lift ship in January 2018, work has focused on restoring the integrity of the hull and topside structures that were damaged during a collision in 2017 that claimed the lives of seven Sailors.
“The complexity of this overhaul has been challenging, but our planning team at Bath Iron Works and waterfront team at HII is executing repairs and installing upgrades so that Fitzgerald returns to our Sailors lethal and mission-ready,” said Rear Adm. Jim Downey, deputy commander for surface warfare and commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center. “We’re excited to have the ship back in the water where we can begin outfitting and testing efforts in support of getting the ship and crew back underway.”
To restore the USS Fitzgerald back to full operations, the Navy is conducting various repairs to the Hull, Mechanical and Electrical (HM&E), Combat System (CS) and Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C5I). The repairs range from partial to complete refurbishment of impacted spaces and replacement of equipment, such as the radar and electronic warfare suite. The ship is also receiving HM&E, Combat System and C5I modernization upgrades.
“This undocking is a step forward and brings us that much closer to getting Fitzgerald back out to sea – where the ship belongs,” said Cmdr. Garrett Miller, Fitzgerald’s commanding officer. “I’m proud of this crew’s hard work over the past year and look forward returning to the fleet with enhanced warfighting capability and lethality.”
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) collided with the containership ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan early in the morning on June 17, 2017, killing seven sailors.
Earlier this month, Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer issued Letter of Censure to the Fitzgerald’s former commanding officer Cmdr. Bryce Benson and former crew member Lt. Natalie Combs. As USNI News points out, public letters of censure are used to publicly shame service members but carry no legal weight, meaning the officers will not face criminal charges related to the incident.