The USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) left a Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII] shipyard on June 13, almost exactly three years after a deadly collision off the coast of Japan.

DDG-62 collided with a merchant ship in June 2017, leading to the death of seven sailors (Defense Daily, June 18, 2017).

The guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) prepares to depart Huntington Ingalls Industries, Ingalls Shipbuilding division’s Pascagoula shipyard on June 13 to return to its homeport in San Diego after over two years of repairs. (Photo: Huntington Ingalls Industries)

It was eventually loaded on a heavy lift vessel and transported to HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. The ship reached the yard and repairs began in January 2018 (Defense Daily, Jan. 19, 2018).

When the Fitzgerald reached Pascagoula, the Navy said it would combine collision repairs with upgrades it planned for a fiscal year 2019 availability in a process that it expected to take two years.

The ship left the dry dock in April 2019 (Defense Daily, April 17, 2019) and first left the shipyard in February for its first comprehensive at-sea tests (Defense Daily, Feb. 3).

The vessel is now en route to its homeport in San Diego.

“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,” Rear Adm. Eric Ver Hage, director of Surface Ship Maintenance and Modernization and commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center, said in a statement.

“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,” he added.

The Navy noted various Hull, Mechanical and Electrical (HM&E); Combat Systems (CS); and Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C5I) repairs were finished to restore the collision impacted spaces.

The USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) arrives in the port of Pascagoula, Miss., on Jan. 19 aboard the heavy lift vessel MV Transself as it heads to Huntington Ingalls Industries’ shipyard for repairs and upgrades. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

“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,” the Navy said.

Thus far, the Fitzgerald crew has completed training and certification events like the Navigation Assessment and Light Off Assessment (LOA) “to ensure the crew was 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 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,” Cmdr. Scott Wilbur, commanding officer of DDG-62, said in a statement.

Before the ship left Pascagoula, the crew started a pre-movement sequester on May 23 in line with the Navy’s pre-deployment guidelines to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

The Fitzgerald is now assigned to Destroyer Squadron 1 and after reaching San Diego will undergo crew training and certifications to support Basic Phase Training.

In late 2017, Congress and President Trump approved providing $673.5 million to repair both the Fitzgerald and the similarly damaged USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) (Defense Daily, Dec. 22, 2017).