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Aerospace & Defense

After Japan collision, USS Fitzgerald back in fighting shape

Seven sailors drowned in crash with Philippine-flagged container ship

After two years of repairs, guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald prepares to depart a shipyard in the U.S. state of Mississippi on June 13 to return to its home port in California. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

NEW YORK -- The U.S. Navy's guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, which collided with a container ship off Japan in 2017, concluded a two-year repair and left Pascagoula shipyard in the state of Mississippi Saturday.

The collision with the Philippine-flagged ship killed seven sailors and resulted in the dismissal of the commander of 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, as well as the commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief of the Fitzgerald, which was based in Yokosuka, Japan, at the time.

The extensive repair included restoring the ship's badly damaged starboard side as well as replacing the radar and electronic warfare suite. The ship also received upgrades to the hull, mechanical and electrical equipment, the combat system and control and communication appliances.

Throughout the restoration period, the U.S. Navy made it a priority to ensure Fitzgerald returned to a peak state of "warfighting" readiness to contribute to an agile and dynamic fleet, it said in a statement.

"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, the navy's director of surface ship maintenance and modernization.

The ship departed Huntington Ingalls Industries to return to her now-home port in San Diego.

Fitzgerald's collision was followed two months later by another incident involving a fellow 7th Fleet destroyer. The USS John S McCain collided with a container ship in the Strait of Malacca, killing 10 sailors. The loss of two Yokosuka-based destroyers opened a gaping hole in the navy's Asia-Pacific posture.

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