Tugboats assist the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald as it moved into dry dock on July 11, 2017. The damaged ship underwent repairs and returned to the sea for testing on Monday. File Photo by MC1 Peter Burghart/U.S. Navy/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 3 (UPI) -- The USS Fitzgerald is back at sea, the U.S. Navy announced on Monday, after repairs following a 2017 collision in which seven sailors died.
The guided-missile destroyer departed the Pascagoula, Miss., repair facilities of Huntington Ingalls Industries early Monday for a demonstration of its capabilities. After its return, crew training and certifications will begin.
The ship is expected to return to duty in the late spring of 2020.
The USS Fitzgerald was first launched from dry dock in April 2019 after its hull and topside structures were repaired.
The vessel has also undergone mechanical, electrical, communications and computer repairs and combat system modernization upgrades.
"Since we launched the ship this past April our efforts have focused on restoring ship systems, conducting pier side tests and readying the ship for sea," Rear Adm. Tom Anderson, NAVSEA director of surface ship maintenance and modernization commander at the Navy Regional Maintenance Center, said in a statement.
"The government industry team has been working hand-in-hand on this exceptionally complex effort, with a common purpose of returning Fitzgerald to sea and ultimately back to the fleet," Anderson said.
The ship collided with a cargo ship off the coast of Japan in June in 2017. Preliminary findings indicated that the crew on board the USS Fitzgerald failed to take proper measures to avoid the accident. No one was charged in the incident.
"The complexity of this overhaul has been challenging, but our planning team at Bath Iron Works and waterfront team [at Huntington Ingalls Industries] is executing repairs and installing upgrades so that Fitzgerald returns to our sailors lethal and mission ready," Rear Arm. Jim Downey, of the Navy Regional Maintenance Center said last year after the Fitzgerald's launching.