USS Fitzgerald

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US Navy 050813-N-8492C-111 The guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) prepares to get into position with ships of the Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group during a formation exercise.jpg
USS Fitzgerald on 13 August 2005
United States
NamesakeWilliam Charles Fitzgerald
Ordered22 February 1990
BuilderBath Iron Works
Laid down9 February 1993
Launched29 January 1994
Sponsored byBetty Ann Fitzgerald
Christened29 January 1994
Commissioned14 October 1995
HomeportSan Diego
MottoProtect Your People
  • Fighting Fitz
  • Fightin' Fitz
Honors and
See Awards
Statusin active service
BadgeUSS Fitzgerald DDG-62 Crest.png
General characteristics
Class and type Arleigh Burke-class destroyer
  • Light: approx. 6,800 long tons (6,900 t)
  • Full: approx. 8,900 long tons (9,000 t)
Length505 ft (154 m)
Beam59 ft (18 m)
Draft31 ft (9.4 m)
Propulsion2 × Shafts
Speed>30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Sensors and
processing systems
Electronic warfare
& decoys
Aircraft carried2 Sikorsky MH-60R helicopters can be embarked

USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62), named for United States Navy officer Lieutenant William Charles Fitzgerald, is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the US Navy.

In the early morning hours of 17 June 2017, the ship was involved in a collision with the container ship MV ACX Crystal, seriously damaging the destroyer. Seven of her crew were killed. Several others were injured, including her commanding officer, Commander Bryce Benson.


Fitzgerald's keel was laid down by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, 9 February 1993; launched 29 January 1994; sponsored by Betty A. Fitzgerald, widow of the late Lt. Fitzgerald; and commissioned 14 October 1995, in Newport, Rhode Island.[1] The ship was then homeported in Naval Base San Diego, California.

Service history[edit]

USS Fitzgerald pulls into port at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in March 2003

In early April 2004, Navy officials announced plans to deploy Fitzgerald, 14 other destroyers, and three cruisers to counter ballistic missile threats worldwide. The next month, she took part in a personnel exchange known as "Super Swap", taking aboard 141 sailors from the destroyer O'Brien and transferring 95 to join the soon-to-be-decommissioned ship's decommissioning unit.[2] Fitzgerald sailed to Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan, arriving on 30 September 2004, and joining the U.S. 7th Fleet's Destroyer Squadron 15.

In March 2011, in company with the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, Fitzgerald was deployed off northeastern Honshu, Japan, to assist with relief efforts after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.[3][4][5]

USS Fitzgerald fires a missile.

On 16 November 2011, while docked in Manila, Philippines, Fitzgerald hosted US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to sign the Manila Declaration, which called for multilateral talks to resolve maritime disputes and to mark the 60th anniversary of the American–Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty.[6][7]

On 1 June 2017, Fitzgerald, operating out of Yokosuka Naval Base, was noted for participating in routine exercises with Japan that were described in the media as a show of force to North Korea. She sailed with the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, the cruiser Shiloh, and the destroyers Barry, McCampbell, and Mustin, joined by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, cruiser Lake Champlain, and destroyers Wayne E. Meyer and Michael Murphy, and Japanese ships Hyūga and Ashigara.

In May 2022, Fitzgerald was homeported at Naval Station San Diego and a part of Destroyer Squadron 2, along with Carrier Strike Group 3 led by USS Abraham Lincoln.[8]

2017 collision[edit]

Damaged Fitzgerald after the collision

About 1:30 a.m. on 17 June 2017, Fitzgerald collided with ACX Crystal, a Philippine-flagged container ship[9] measured at 29,060 gross tons and almost 40,000 tons deadweight. Most of Fitzgerald's crew of about 300[10] were asleep at the time.[11] The collision occurred about 56 nautical miles (104 kilometres; 64 miles) southwest of her homeport of Yokosuka, Japan.[9]

The starboard side of Fitzgerald was seriously damaged. The container ship's bulbous bow penetrated the destroyer's hull below the waterline, flooding a machinery space, the radio room, and two crew berthing spaces.[12] The captain's cabin was crushed.[13] Seven crewmen were reported missing after the collision, but their bodies were found the next day after rescue workers gained access to flooded compartments.[12][14] The injured include the ship's commanding officer and two sailors.[15]

Within a day of the collision, investigations were begun by the United States Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, Japanese Coast Guard, Japan Transport Safety Board, and the insurers of the Crystal. The U.S. Navy's Manual of the Judge Advocate General (JAGMAN) investigation concerns the crew's operations, and is led by Rear Adm. Brian Fort, a former commander of USS Gonzalez, who now commands Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific.[16][17][18] The U.S. and Japanese coast guards are investigating the cause of the accident.[19] Steffan Watkins, a Canada-based security analyst,[20][21] created a Google Maps overlay for the broadcast AIS data points.[22]

Including costs for planned service life extension and other upgrades, repairs for the damage to Fitzgerald are expected to run about $368.7 million,[23] and will take over a year. Repairs on the ship will overlap with planned service life extension and electronics upgrade, but despite the need to replace portions of the ship's AEGIS system the ship will remain in "a legacy configuration instead of upgrading to Baseline 9".[24][25]

On 17 August 2017, the two senior officers and the senior enlisted sailor in charge of the naval vessel were relieved of their duties.[26] The Navy planned to discipline up to a dozen sailors, including the commanding officer, for watchstanding failures that allowed the fatal collision.[27]

Damage to USS Fitzgerald

In late August 2017, it was reported that the destroyer will be transported by the Dockwise heavy-lift ship MV Transshelf to Huntington Ingalls Industriesshipyard in Pascagoula.[28][29][30]

It was announced in October that the vessel would not be upgraded to the latest version of the Aegis system.[31]

On 28 November 2017, the destroyer was further damaged by two punctures to her hull during the loading process to MV Transshelf, compelling her to return to Yokosuka for the punctures to be repaired.[32][33]

Fitzgerald arrived at the Port of Pascagoula in Mississippi on 19 January 2018, aboard the heavy-lift transport MV Transshelf, after a two-month journey from Japan. She was expected to spend a few days in the port, being lifted off the transport and readied for her trip to the Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard, where she was expected to commence an estimated two year repair.[34]

In August 2019, the Japan Transport Safety Board's final report concluded distraction and incomplete radar information aboard the US Navy vessel caused the accident.[35]

On 3 February 2020, USS Fitzgerald exited the Pascagoula shipyard for sea trials aimed at testing all shipboard systems. Following these sea trials, Fitzgerald plans to return to the shipyard to correct any remaining issues and then commence crew training in preparation for its return to active duty.[36] On 13 June 2020 she departed Pascagoula to return to her home port in San Diego.[37]


See also[edit]



  1. ^ Evans, Mark L. (8 July 2015). "Fitzgerald (DDG-62)". Naval History and Heritage Command. Retrieved 18 June 2017.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ "O'Brien-Fitzgerald crew swap to return sailors to Yokosuka". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  3. ^ Rabiroff, John (17 March 2011). "U.S. military delivers 40 tons of supplies to hardest-hit areas". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Warships Supporting Earthquake in Japan". Seawaves. Archived from the original on 23 March 2011.
  5. ^ Stewart, Joshua (14 March 2011). "Navy ships off Japan move to avoid radiation". Military Times. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  6. ^ "Clinton uses warship to push Philippines alliance". ABS-CBN News Interactive. Agence France-Presse. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  7. ^ {{cite web|url=, Philippines boost alliance amid row with China |work=Philippine Daily Inquirer|agency=Associated Press |date=16 November 2011 |access-date=4 October 2015}
  8. ^ "USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: May 23, 2022". USNI News. 1 June 2022. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  9. ^ a b Shane, Scott (18 June 2017). "Sleeping Sailors on U.S.S. Fitzgerald Awoke to a Calamity at Sea". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  10. ^ Larter, David B. (18 June 2017). "Fitzgerald crew's 'heroic efforts' saved their ship from sinking, admiral says". Navy Times. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  11. ^ "Missing sailors' bodies found in damaged USS Fitzgerald". So Jazeera. 18 June 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Seven sailors missing in ship collision found dead". The Hill. 17 June 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  13. ^ Gale, Alastair; Lubold, Gordon (18 June 2017). "Deadly Collision Crushed Captain's Cabin of USS Fitzgerald". The Wall Street Journal.
  14. ^ "US Navy Identifies Seven Deceased Fitzgerald Sailors". U.S. Navy. 18 June 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  15. ^ Simpkins, Jon; Larter, David (16 June 2017). "7 US sailors missing after USS Fitzgerald's catastrophic collision". Navy Times. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  16. ^ Shane, Scott (23 June 2017). "Maritime Mystery: Why a U.S. Destroyer Failed to Dodge a Cargo Ship". New York Times. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  17. ^ "Rear Admiral Brian P. Fort: Commander, Navy Region Hawaii/Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific". U.S. Navy. 26 June 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  18. ^ Cole, William (23 June 2017). "Incoming Hawaii Navy commander to investigate fatal collision off Japan". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  19. ^ Rich, Motoko (19 June 2017). "As Sailors' Bodies Are Flown to U.S., Fitzgerald Inquiries Intensify". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  20. ^ Johnson, Tim (7 February 2019). "Venezuela says plane from Miami delivered weapons for use by enemies of Maduro". McClatchy DC BUREAU. Ottawa-based analyst of unusual ship and plane movements, Steffan Watkins, drew attention to the frequent flights of the 21 Air cargo plane
  21. ^ "U.S. Denies Russian Plane Permission for Reconnaissance Flights, Official Says". The Moscow Times. 12 September 2018. Canadian-based security analyst Steffan Watkins noted that the U.S. refused to certify the Russian aircraft for “absolutely no technical or treaty-related reason.”
  22. ^ Watkins, Steffan (26 June 2017). "The leaked statement from the ACX Crystal's Captain is an easily disproven lie".
  23. ^ Werner, Ben (13 December 2017). "USS John S. McCain Now in Japan for Repairs Following Deadly August Collision". USNI News. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  24. ^ Repair for USS Fitzgerald After Collision Will Cost More Than Fix to USS Cole After Terror Attack –, 27 July 2017
  25. ^ U.S. Navy Won't Upgrade USS Fitzgerald to Baseline 9 Aegis Combat System –, 16 October 2017
  26. ^ U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs (17 August 2017). "7th Fleet Announces USS Fitzgerald Accountability Determinations". U.S. Navy. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  27. ^ "Sailors to be Disciplined". Navy Times. 21 August 2017. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  28. ^ "Huntington Ingalls Industries Selected to Repair Guided Missile Destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62)". Huntington Ingalls Industries. 23 August 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  29. ^ Burgess, Richard R. (25 August 2017). "Navy Taps Patriot Shipping to Transport USS Fitzgerald to Pascagoula". Seapower. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  30. ^ "Dockwise Heavy Lift Ship Will Transport USS Fitzgerald". The Maritime Executive. 6 September 2017. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  31. ^ LaGrone, Sam (16 October 2017). "U.S. Navy Won't Upgrade USS Fitzgerald to Baseline 9 Aegis Combat System". United States Naval Institute. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  32. ^ "Crippled US destroyer damaged by transport ship". CNN. 27 November 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  33. ^ Lardieri, Alexa (28 November 2017). "USS Fitzgerald Suffers More Damage". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  34. ^ "stricken-destroyer-uss-fitzgerald-arrives-mississippi-two-years-repairs". 19 January 2018. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  35. ^ "U.S. Destroyer lookouts' failure to follow protocol led to fatal 2017 collision, Japanese report says". 29 August 2019.
  36. ^ "USS Fitzgerald Returns To Sea". US Navy. 3 February 2020. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  37. ^ "USS Fitzgerald En Route to San Diego". Naval Sea Systems Command. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  38. ^ Dortch, Debbie (5 February 2012). "SECNAV Names 2012 Outstanding Food Service Ney Award Winners". U.S. Navy. Retrieved 4 October 2015.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]