Nearly three years after a collision tore a hole in its side and killed 10 of its crew members, the guided-missile destroyer John S. McCain is heading back into naval operations.

It’s been a long road back since the warship’s collision with a tanker in the West Pacific in August 2017, which came less than two months after another fatal ship collision involving the destroyer Fitzgerald that killed seven sailors.

This week’s announcement of the McCain’s return comes after the Fitz left a Mississippi shipyard earlier this month and headed for its new home port in San Diego.

McCain underwent nearly two years’ worth of repairs at the headquarters of U.S. 7th Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan, a rehab that included updates to the ship’s computer network, antenna systems and berthing.

It hit the water and got back underway in October.

The destroyer and its crew then began months of basic phase training and certification across 23 areas, including seamanship, navigation and damage control, according to a Navy release.

Finally, on June 2, the once-stricken ship was declared good to go and able to take on missions for 7th Fleet, a vast command that includes the often-restive waters of the South China Sea.

“We couldn’t have gotten here without the support from the community and all the training organizations that helped us accomplish this,” McCain’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Ryan Easterday, said in a statement. “Big Bad John is back and we’re ready to take the watch.”

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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