Almost three years after a collision with a containership that cost the lives of seven sailors, the USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) departed Ingalls Shipbuilding’s Pascagoula shipyard June 13 to return to her homeport in San Diego.
The sail away reflects more than two years’ worth of effort in restoring and modernizing the guided missile destroyer, which received extensive damage in the June 17, 2017, collision with the containership ACX Crystal.
“Today 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,” said Rear Adm. Eric Ver Hage, director, Surface Ship Maintenance and Modernization and commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center. “The Fitzgerald sailors, our Navy project teams and the men and women of Ingalls put forth a tremendous effort to restore the ship to fighting shape and did so on schedule.”
To restore the impacted spaces to full operations and functionality, a number of 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.
Both repair and new construction procedures were used to accomplish the restoration and modernization efforts. Throughout this restoration period, the U.S. Navy made it a priority to ensure Fitzgerald returned to a peak state of warfighting readiness.
The Fitzgerald crew completed multiple training and certification events, to ensure their being at peak readiness to operate the ship as it returns to homeport.
“Completing repairs and upgrades to Fitzgerald was only possible because of the outstanding teamwork between the government and industry teams over the last two and a half years. My thanks go out to everyone involved in making sure the ship is ready, and I’m especially proud of my crew’s hard work ensuring we are trained and prepared to take our ship back to sea,” said Cmdr. Scott Wilbur, commanding officer of Fitzgerald.
Prior to departing Pascagoula for San Diego, Fitzgerald’s crew began a pre-movement sequester on May 23 in accordance with U.S. Navy pre-deployment guidelines—compliance with Navy and CDC guidance is critical to minimize the spread of COVID-19.