The guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald arrived at its homeport of San Diego Thursday, after more than two years of repairs and restoration caused by damage from a 2017 collision that killed multiple sailors.
Throughout the restoration period, the Navy made it a priority to return the Fitzgerald to warfighting readiness.
"Returning Fitzgerald to the fleet has truly been a team effort," said Cmdr. Scott Wilbur, Fitzgerald's Commanding Officer. "I'm incredibly proud of what this crew has done over the last few years, bringing our ship back to the fleet. We're happy to be home in San Diego to continue our training. I'm excited for what lies ahead."
On June 17, 2017, the Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine-flagged container ship MV ACX Crystal near the Japanese coast. Seven Navy sailors died, and at least three more were injured, including then-commanding officer Cmdr. Bryce Benson.
The top two senior officers and a top enlisted sailor were relieved of duty and facing criminal negligent homicide charges for nearly two years before the Navy ultimately dropped the charges in April 2019. The owners of the merchant vessel agreed to pay $27 million in compensation to the Navy.
Since the collision, the Fitzgerald crew has completed multiple training and certification events to ensure the crew was at peak readiness to operate the ship.
The crew also completed 140 simulator hours prior to starting Basic Phase.
While in San Diego, the crew will continue to conduct simulator and at-sea training to be ready to operate the ship at sea. The ship will complete extensive training and certification in strict adherence to the results and recommendations from the Secretary of the Navy's Readiness Review and Comprehensive Review.
To restore the damage from the collision, various hull, mechanical, electrical, communications, computers, and intelligence repairs were completed.
These repairs ranged from partial to complete refurbishment of damaged areas,
to replacement of equipment such as the radar and electronic warfare suite.
Due to the extent and complexity of the restoration, both repair and new construction procedures were used to accomplish the restoration and modernization efforts.
"The Huntington Ingalls Team in coordination with Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Naval Sea Systems Command has ensured USS Fitzgerald is a repaired, modernized and capable warship," said Capt. Jay Clark, commander of the squadron where Fitzgerald is assigned. "The Fighting Fitz' Crew is resilient, competent, and ready to succeed in the extensive system validations, training, and certifications needed for follow on high-end operations."