US Navy returning USS Fitzgerald to US for repairs

Dry-dock photos shows the extent of damage USS Fitzgerald sustained in the collision. Photo: US Navy

US destroyer USS Fitzgerald which was heavily damaged in a June 17 collision with a merchant vessel will be sent back from Japan to the US for repairs, the US Navy has decided.

A US Navy 7th Fleet spokesperson confirmed this to Naval Today adding that the contract to transport the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is yet to be awarded.

According to a Military Sealift Command solicitation issued last week, the navy is looking to transfer the USS Fitzgerald from its forward-deployed naval base Yokosuka, Japan to the US.

The navy is still deciding to which shipyard the destroyer would be sent with two highlighted options being the Portland, Maine, where the destroyer was built by Bath Iron Works, and Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Both options would involve a passage through the Panama Canal.

The move could take place as early as September and as late as December this year, according to the Military Sealift Command which has left two separate time frames during which the transfer could take place.

This will not be the first time the US Navy has transported a warship on a float-on/float-off (FLO/FLO) vessel. Back in 2000, the US Military Sealift Command transported another destroyer, the USS Cole, from the Gulf of Aden to the US after it had sustained a 40-foot-by-40-foot hole in its hull following a terrorist attack that killed 17 U.S. Sailors on October 12.

MV Blue Marlin with her passenger — USS Cole — loaded aboard. Photo: US Military Sealift Command

 

Prior to the incident with USS Cole, the US Navy was forced to resort to this method of transportation when the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) nearly sank in January 1988 after hitting a mine in the Persian Gulf.

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