Crippled Navy Destroyer Damaged Further During Repair Process

REUTERS/Toru Hanai

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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A crippled American warship suffered further damage during preparations for its trip to the U.S. for repairs.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald was forced to return to Fleet Activities Yokosuka Monday to repair two punctures in the hull, which occurred while loading the vessel onto a heavy lift ship for transport to Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) in Pascagoula, Miss., for maintenance, the Navy revealed in a statement. The Navy expects the repairs to delay the warship’s departure by several days.

The warship was towed into deep water Friday to be loaded on a transport ship over a period of several days. The heavy lift vessel MV Transshelf’s steel support structure was the cause of the latest damages.

The Fitzgerald was the first of two 7th Fleet destroyers damaged in fatal accidents this past summer. The Fitzgerald was struck by the Philippine-flagged container vessel ACX Crystal on June 17. The merchant ship, which was three times the size of the American naval vessel, slammed into the starboard side of the Fitzgerald, puncturing the hull and ending the lives of seven members of the crew. Two months later, the oil tanker Alnic MC collided with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain, killing 10 sailors.

The Navy conducted a comprehensive investigation into the cause of the collisions. Having concluded that the accidents were “avoidable” and caused by training lapses and command failures, a number of senior officers were removed from their positions. The White House has requested $700 million to repair the two naval vessels, which play a part in defending American interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

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