The guided-missile destroyer John S. McCain re-entered the water Tuesday for the first time since her collision with an oil tanker last year killed 10 shipmates in their living quarters.
The Navy issued at least two press releases in the past eight days touting the McCain’s move from dry dock and the reopening of her “Maverick Café” mess decks.
The McCain launched from dry dock and was moored to a pier Tuesday at its home port of Yokosuka, Japan, according to one Navy release.
She entered dry dock in February and the latest milestone “reflects nearly a year’s worth of wide-reaching and successful coordination across multiple organizations,” a release from the Japan-based 7th Fleet states.
Neither release mentions the 10 sailors who died in the Aug. 21, 2017, collision near the bustling Strait of Malacca.
They are Charles Findley, Abraham Lopez, Kevin Bushell, Corey Ingram, Jacob Drake, Timothy Eckels Jr., Dustin Doyon, John Hoagland III, Logan Palmer and Kenneth Smith.
About two months before the McCain tragedy, the sister Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Fitzgerald collided with another commercial vessel off Japan in a disaster that killed seven sailors.
Navy brass estimate it might cost more than $600 million to repair both warships.
The Fitz’s damage required it to be transferred to a shipyard in Mississippi, where repairs continue.
Mending the McCain meant not only repairing crushed and flooded living quarters below the waterline but also modernization work.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, but I remain impressed by the incredible teamwork, determination and flexibility shown daily by this crew as well as the (Ship Repair Facility) Project Team to return a better, more lethal warship to the fleet,” the McCain’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Micah Murphy, said in the release.
The McCain now has a fully restored hull, a new port thrust shaft and rebuilt berthing spaces.
Repairing the ship also gave the Navy the chance to complete maintenance work that had previously been delayed, “which reflects the Navy’s commitment to ensuring that required maintenance on ships is no longer deferred,” according to the statement.
Maintenance woes emerged last year as an endemic part of a readiness problem in the 7th Fleet. All the work on the McCain is expected to be finished by late next year.
The Navy announced the ship’s mess decks had reopened in a separate Nov. 20 press release.
“I know the culinary specialists are excited to show off their skills, and the crew’s tastes buds are equally excited to put those to the test,” the skipper Murphy said in the release.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at email@example.com.