More than a year after it entered dry dock, the stricken warship Fitzgerald returned to the water Tuesday, according to a Navy release.
The guided-missile destroyer suffered a massive hole in her starboard side, other hull damage and topside structure destruction in the June 17, 2017, collision with the ACX Crystal, a merchant vessel, off the coast of Japan that killed seven American sailors.
At the Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, the destroyer left dry dock, successfully launched and is now moored at the pier, according to the Navy.
Getting the destroyer back to a combat capable status has been a long and expensive process.
The Navy has awarded roughly $533 million in contract and modifications for the Fitz since September 2017, according to Pentagon contract listings.
It was kept secret from the public in part because it was designed to prep the Navy for potential lawsuits in the aftermath of the accident.
Repairs were initially undertaken at the Fitz’s homeport in Yokosuka, Japan, but the ship was transported to the states for repairs in late 2017.
Since its arrival at the Pascagoula shipyard in January 2018, work has focused on both mending the damage and modernizing the destroyer.
To restore the parts of the ship impacted by the collision, repairs have ranged from partial and complete refurbishment of damaged spaces to replacement of radar and electronic warfare assets, according to the Navy.
“This undocking is a step forward and brings us that much closer to getting Fitzgerald back out to sea,” the Fitz’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Garrett Miller, said in a press release.