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USS Fitzgerald drydocked, commanding officer temporarily relieved

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Seventh Fleet tweeted this photograph of USS Fitzgerald in dry dock

JULY 11, 2017 — U.S. Seventh Fleet reports that the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) entered dry dock today to continue repairs and assess damage sustained during the ship’s June 17 collision with a containership.

Seven sailors died in the incident. The destroyer’s commanding officer Cmdr. Bryce Benson, sustained injuries. He is still recovering and today he was relieved of his command temporarily for medical reasons.

Today’s evolution began well before sunrise for the Fitzgerald crew and involved small boats from Fleet Activities Yokosuka (FLEACT) Port Operations Department.

“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 FLEACT Yokosuka’s tugboats delivered the ship to 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.

Lt. David Reinhardt, SRF-JRMC’s Docking Officer oversaw the entire process.

“Usually we can dock a ship in about seven hours,” said Reinhardt. “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.”

SRF-JRMC started pumping the water out of the dry dock at 9:30 a.m. local time, said Reinhardt.

The Commanding Officer of SRF-JRMC, Capt. Garrett Farman, said he was proud of the work accomplished by the Port Operations and SRF-JRMC team, Tuesday.

Damage to the Fitzgerald (DDG 62) following the collision with the containership ACX Crystal included a significant impact under the ship’s pilothouse on the starboard side and a large puncture below the ship’s waterline, opening the hull to the sea.

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