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Huntington Ingalls picked to refurbish USS Fitzgerald

Costs for fixes to the guided-missile destroyer, which crashed into a merchant ship in June, are expected to top $500 million.

By Richard Tomkins
Huntington Ingalls picked to refurbish USS Fitzgerald
The damaged USS Fitzgerald returns to port in Japan ahead of transport back to the United States for repairs. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart

Aug. 24 (UPI) -- The guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, damaged in a collision off the coast of Japan, is to be repaired and refurbished by Huntington Ingalls Industries, the Navy said Wednesday.

The work will take place at Huntington's shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., after transport arrangements are finalized to transfer the ship from Japan. The Navy said, however, that "the start date, scope, cost and the time required to fully restore the ship have not yet been determined."

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The actual contract for the work is expected to be completed later this year, with the cost for all fixes likely surpassing the $500 million mark.

"Given the complexity of the work and the significant unknowns of the restoration, the Navy determined that only an Arleigh Burke-class shipbuilder could perform the effort." the Navy said in a press release. "Only HII has the available capacity to restore Fitzgerald to full operational status in the shortest period of time with minimal disruption to ongoing repair and new construction work."

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"Ingalls and all of its employees regret the tragic circumstances that will bring the ship to Pascagoula," Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias said in a statement, "but it is an honor and a privilege to work with the Navy to return the ship to the fleet in the shortest time possible."

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The USS Fitzgerald was involved in a collision off Japan with a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel on June 17. The ship suffered damage on her starboard side above and below the waterline.

Seven sailors died in the mishap. The Fitzgerald's commander, executive officer and a senior non-commissioned officer were relieved of their duties following the collision.

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The Navy is currently in the process of finalizing plans to lift the ship for transport back to the United States.

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