USS Fitzgerald to return to U.S. for extensive repairs

Kyodo

The U.S. Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald will return home for repairs following its fatal collision last month with a Filipino freighter south of Tokyo Bay, a naval official said Friday.

Seven crew members died in the collision on June 17. Whether the crew of the vessel will also return home remains undecided, the official said, adding that the United States will continue to cooperate with Japanese authorities to shed light on the incident.

According to the official, the U.S. side will share information such as the accounts of the crew members.

Once the 8,315-ton warship goes back, the Japan Coast Guard, which is investigating the accident, will be unable to assess the damage.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, equipped with the state-of-the-art Aegis missile defense system, sustained heavy damage to its starboard side near the bridge. The bodies of the seven sailors were found in their flooded cabins.

The damaged destroyer is currently berthed at Yokosuka naval base. The extent of the damage will be assessed after it is moved to a dock at the base early this month. The navy will then decide whether it can sail on its own or require towing by other vessels.

The coast guard is pursuing a charge of professional negligence. The Filipino ship, the 29,060-ton ACX Crystal, is run by major Japanese shipping firm Nippon Yusen K.K.

The Fitzgerald had been sailing in coastal waters to monitor North Korea’s ballistic missile launches.