By Sean Kirkpatrick – June 18, 2020
Destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) has completed its repairs in Mississippi and begun the journey back to its home port of San Diego. This departure occurs almost three years to the day of the ship’s June 17, 2017 collision with a merchant ship. The sail away marks more than two years’ worth of effort in repairing and modernizing one of the Navy’s most capable warships.
In 2018 the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer was brought to Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, MS via heavy-lift ship for repairs. It remained in dry dock until April 2019 when it was undocked and pier-side work continued into 2020.
“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. 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,” said Rear Adm. Eric Ver Hage, Director of Surface Ship Maintenance and Modernization and Commander of Navy Regional Maintenance Center, in a Navy news release.
Being among one of the older ships in the fleet, the Fitzgerald was already scheduled to undergo mechanical, hull, and electrical upgrades prior to the collision. The heavy damage from the crash made these repairs even more important. “To restore the impacted spaces to full operations and functionality, various 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,” reads the Navy news release.
Ingalls is one of two builders of this destroyer class and also performed the repairs on the damaged USS Cole (DDG-67). The repairs were originally budgeted to $368 million and ultimately increased to $523 million which included the modernization efforts. Ameri-Force employees performed extensive work on the project, ultimately leading to its success.
Currently, the Fitzgerald is on its way to its home port of San Diego where it will serve under Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 1. “Completing repairs and upgrades to Fitzgerald was only possible because of the outstanding teamwork between the government and industry teams over the last 2 1/2 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,” Fitzgerald Commanding Officer Cmdr. Scott Wilbur said in the news release.
Sean Kirkpatrick is the Southwest Regional Manager for Ameri-Force. Sean has been a member of the Ameri-Force team since 2016.