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US Navy - Guided Missile Destroyer

DDG 62 - USS Fitzgerald

 

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald insignia crest patch badge guided missile destroyer us navy 02 ddg-62 uss fitzgerald arkeigh burke class guided missile destroyer us navy bath iron works maine yokosuka japan 

 

Type, class: Guided Missile Destroyer - DDG; Arleigh Burke class, Flight I
Builder: General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, USA
  
STATUS:
Awarded: February 22, 1990
Laid down: February 9, 1993
Launched: January 29, 1994
Commissioned: October 14, 1995
IN SERVICE
 

Homeport: Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan (forward deployed)
 Namesake: Lieutenant William Charles Fitzgerald (1938-1967)
Ships Motto: PROTECT YOUR PEOPLE
Technical Data: see: INFO > Arleigh Burke class Guided Missile Destroyer - DDG

 

ship images


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USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) sits in Dry Dock 4 at Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka to continue repairs and assess damage sustained from its June 17 collision with a merchant vessel - July 11, 2017

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Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan - July 11, 2017

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Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan - July 11, 2017

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Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan - July 11, 2017

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Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan - July 11, 2017

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Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan - July 11, 2017

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Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan - July 11, 2017

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Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan - July 11, 2017

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USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) moves into Dry Dock 4 at Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka to continue repairs and assess damage sustained from its June 17 collision with a merchant vessel - July 11, 2017

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Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan - July 11, 2017

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Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan - July 11, 2017

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USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) moves into Dry Dock 4 at Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka to continue repairs and assess damage sustained from its June 17 collision with a merchant vessel - July 11, 2017

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USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, June 17, 2017
while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan - 7 sailors died

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USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, June 17, 2017
while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan - 7 sailors died

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USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returning to Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan after a collision with a merchant vessel - June 17, 2017

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USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returning to Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan after a collision with a merchant vessel - June 17, 2017

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USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returning to Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan after a collision with a merchant vessel - June 17, 2017

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USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returning to Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan after a collision with a merchant vessel - June 17, 2017


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Sea of Japan - June 2017

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Mk-45 Mod.2 (5-inch / 54-caliber) gun fire - Sea of Japan - April 2017

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Sea of Japan - April 2017

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a RUR-5 ASROC anti-submarine rocket was launched from the aft Mk-41 VLS - Philippine Sea - March 2017

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Philippine Sea - March 2017

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Philippine Sea - March 2017

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Philippine Sea - March 2017

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a RUR-5 ASROC canister was loaded into the aft Mk-41 VLS - Apra Harbor, Guam - March 2017

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Dry Dock 5 at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan for an Extended Drydock Selected Restricted Availability (EDSRA) - July 2016

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Dry Dock 5 at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan for an Extended Drydock Selected Restricted Availability (EDSRA) - July 2016

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USS Fitzgerald pulls into Dry Dock 5 at Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF JRMC)
Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan - June 2016

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USS Fitzgerald pulls into Dry Dock 5 at Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF JRMC)
Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan - June 2016

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a RGM-84 Harpoon SSM missile was fired from a Mk-141 launcher off Guam - March 2016

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a RGM-84 Harpoon SSM missile was fired from a Mk-141 launcher off Guam - March 2016

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Apra Harbor, Guam - March 2016

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Philippine Sea - March 2016

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Mk-32 triple torpedo tubes - March 2016

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Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan - January 2016

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2015 25 manila philippines
Manila, Philippines - November 2015

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2015 26 sasebo japan
Sasebo, Japan - August 2015

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a RGM-84 Harpoon SSM missile was fired from a Mk-141 launcher - August 2015

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2015 28 rgm-84 harpoon anti ship missile
a RGM-84 Harpoon SSM missile was fired from a Mk-141 launcher - August 2015

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2015 29 mk-45 5" 54 caliber gun fire
Mk-45 Mod.2 (5-inch / 54-caliber) gun fire - Timor Sea - July 2015

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2015 30 mk-15 phalanx close in weapon system
Mk-15 Phalanx CIWS - Timor Sea - July 2015

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Busan, Republic of Korea - May 2015

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2015 31 mk-15 phalanx ciws
Mk-15 Phalanx CIWS fire exercise - East China Sea - April 2015

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USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) alongside USS Sampson (DDG 102) - Apra Harbor, Guam - March 2015

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Yokosuka, Japan - January 2015

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2014 37 rim-66 standard missile sm-2mr mk-41 vls
RIM-66 Standard Missiles SM-2MR were fired from the forward and aft Mk-41 VLS -  Philippine Sea - September 2014

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Pacific Ocean - September 2014

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2014 38 mk-45 gun fire
Mk-45 Mod.2 (5-inch / 54-caliber) gun fire - Pacific Ocean - September 2014

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2013 39 pacific ocean
Pacific Ocean - August 2013

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2013 40 south china sea
South China Sea - July 2013

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2013 42 replenishment at sea ras
South China Sea - July 2013

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underway replenishment - South China Sea - July 2013

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2013 44 changi naval base singapore
Changi Naval Base, Singapore - July 2013

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Changi Naval Base, Singapore - July 2013

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Changi Naval Base, Singapore - July 2013

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Changi Naval Base, Singapore - July 2013

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Changi Naval Base, Singapore - July 2013

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2013 48 mk-45 5 inch 54 caliber gun fire exercise
Mk-45 Mod.2 (5-inch / 54-caliber) gun fire - Philippine Sea - July 2013

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2013 49 mk-38 mod.2 25mm machine gun system
Mk-38 Mod.2 25mm machine gun fire - Philippine Sea - June 2013

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Philippine Sea - June 2013

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2013 51 subic bay philippines
Subic Bay, Philippines - June 2013

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off Korea - March 2013

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off Korea - March 2013

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2012 54 rim-66 standard missile sm-2mr mk-41 vertical launching system vls
RIM-66 Standard Missile SM-2MR was fired from the forward Mk-41 VLS -  Pacific Ocean - October 2012

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2012 55 rim-161 standard missile sm-3 mk-41 vls
RIM-161 Standard Missile SM-3 was fired from the forward Mk-41 VLS -  Pacific Ocean - October 2012

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Pacific Ocean - September 2012

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Pacific Ocean - September 2012

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Pacific Ocean - August 2012

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2012 59 yokosuka japan
Yokosuka, Japan - April 2012

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Yokosuka, Japan - April 2012

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Busan, Republic of Korea - February 2012

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2011 62
Pacific Ocean - July 2011

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2011 63 mk-45 gun fire
Mk-45 Mod.2 5"/54-caliber gun fire - Pacific Ocean - July 2011

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Pacific Ocean - October 2010

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2010 65 fleet activities yokosuka japan
Yokosuka, Japan - May 2010

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2009 66 yokosuka
Yokosuka, Japan - December 2009

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2009 67 pacific ocean
Pacific Ocean - October 2009

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Mk-45 (5 inch / 54 caliber) gun fire - Pacific Ocean - August 2009

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Pacific Ocean - June 2009

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Pacific Ocean - June 2009

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Pacific Ocean - June 2009

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Pacific Ocean - May 2009

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Pacific Ocean - April 2009

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Pacific Ocean - April 2009

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Quingdao, China - April 2009

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Yokosuka, Japan - February 2009

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2009 77 yokosuka japan forward deployed
Yokosuka, Japan - February 2009

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2008 78 mk-141 missile launcher rgm-84 harpoon ssm
a RGM-84 Harpoon SSM missile tube was lowered into the Mk-141 missile launcher - Yokosuka, Japan - November 2008

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Pacific Ocean - February 2008

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2007 80
Yokosuka, Japan - September 2007

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a RGM-84 Harpoon SSM missile was fired from a Mk-141 launcher - August 2007

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a RGM-84 Harpoon SSM missile was fired from a Mk-141 launcher - August 2007

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Yokosuka, Japan - August 2006

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in dry dock at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan - January 2006

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 2005 85 mk-41 vertical launching system vls
sailors inspect the Mk-41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) - Yokosuka, Japan - September 2005

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sailors inspect the Mk-41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) - Yokosuka, Japan - September 2005

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sailors inspect the Mk-41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) - Yokosuka, Japan - September 2005

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USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and USS Boxer (LHD 4) - Pacific Ocean - August 2005

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Pacific Ocean - August 2005

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Pacific Ocean - August 2005

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Pacific Ocean - August 2005

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Coral Sea - June 2005

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Coral Sea - June 2005

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Yokosuka, Japan - September 2004

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Naval Weapon Station Seal Beach, California - December 2003

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Strait of Hormuz - April 2003

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Pacific Ocean - March 2003

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Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - March 2003

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Naval Station San Diego, California - March 2003

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 1999 operation desert fox combat information center cic
during Operation Desert Fox - February 1999


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sea trials - May 1995

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sea trials - May 1995

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sea trials - May 1995

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sea trials - May 1995

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sea trials - May 1995

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sea trials - May 1995

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sea trials - May 1995

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sea trials - May 1995

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sea trials - May 1995

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sea trials - May 1995

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sea trials - May 1995

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sea trials - May 1995

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sea trials - May 1995

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sea trials - May 1995

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 1994 111 christening ceremony launching
christening ceremony and launching - Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine - January 29, 1994

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christening ceremony and launching - Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine - January 29, 1994

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prior to christening and launch - Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine - January 4, 1994

ddg-62 uss fitzgerald guided missile destroyer 1993 108 keel laying ceremony bath iron works maine
keel laying ceremony at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine - February 9, 1993
 

 

USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62):

 is an Arleigh Burke-class (Flight I) guided missile destroyer, laid down by Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine 9 Feb. 1993; launched 29 Jan. 1994; and commissioned 14 Oct. 1995 in Newport, R.I. The USS Fitzgerald was homeported in San Diego, CA.

In early 1996 USS Fitzgerald went through qualifications and trials and a Post Shakedown Availability (PSA) at Southwest Marine Shipyard in San Diego on May 20. She was underway for sea trials in Aug. then was underway for Independent Steaming Exercise off the coast of Southern California. She participated in COMPTUEX 95-5A/ITA with USS Constellation (CV 64) in Nov.

In Jan. 1997, the Fitzgerald participated in Middle East Force Exercise (MEFEX) Phase II and Fleet Exercise (FLETEX), as part of the Constellation (Connie) Battle Group. In Feb. USS Fitzgerald went on her maiden deployment in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibility (AoR). In Aug. DDG 62 pulled into Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, for a two-day visit and to embark friends and family members for a Tiger Cruise back home.

In 1998, the Fitzgerald went underway in support of COMPTUEX for USS Constellation Battle Group, as part of ‘opposition forces’. In Nov. USS Fitzgerald left for a Middle East deployment as part of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) BG.

In early May, 1999 the Fitzgerald returned to San Diego after a six-month underway period in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet AoR. In Nov. USS Fitzgerald departed for a scheduled western Pacific and Arabian Gulf deployment. The Fitzgerald operated as part of multinational interception forces that boarded and diverted vessels found to be violating United Nations sanctions.

Mar. 2000 The Fitzgerald made a number of port calls at exotic locations and returned home in Apr after five-and-a-half month deployment.

The Fitzgerald went underway for Teamwork North 01 in Sep. 2001. The guided-missile destroyer supported of Operation Noble Eagle in November.

In Jan. 2002 DDG 62 departed for Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD) testing. In Feb. she was in Tailored Ship's Training Availability (TSTA) and again in TBMD testing in April 1. In Jul. USS Fitzgerald departed in support of Fleet Battle Experiment-Juliet (FBE-J), which took place underneath the broad spectrum of Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02), a congressionally-mandated experiment involving units from all of the U.S. Armed Forces.

In Mar. 2003 USS Fitzgerald departed for a scheduled deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), as part of the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Carrier Strike Group (CSG). In Nov. the Fitzgerald returned home after an eight-month underway period. The ship provided escort of the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) during air strikes into Iraq and was later designated flagship for Commander, Maritime Interception Operations in the North Arabian Gulf. She also served an Air Defense role for U.S. and coalition ships operating in the Gulf of Oman and North Arabian Sea.

In Mar. 2004 The Fitzgerald departed for sea trials. In early April 2004, it was announced that she would be one of fifteen destroyers and three cruisers which would be deployed to counter ballistic missile threats worldwide. She arrived in Yokosuka, Japan 30 September 2004 to join the U.S. 7th Fleet after participating in a personnel exchange known as "Super Swap". 140 sailors from USS O'Brien (DD-975) transferred to Fitzgerald and 95 of Fitzgerald’s sailors joined the decommissioning unit for O'Brien. She was designated for a homeport change from San Diego to Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan at this time. The Fitzgerald arrived at its new forward-deployed homeport in Sep. In Nov. and Dec. the Fitzgerald was underway for Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) operations in the Sea of Japan.

Feb. 2005 USS Fitzgerald participated in exercise Foal Eagle '05. In May USS Fitzgerald departed for a Summer Patrol, as part of the Kitty Hawk (CV 63) SG, in the western and southern Pacific. In Jun. the guided-missile destroyer participated in exercise Talisman Saber 2005.

In Mar. 2006 USS Fitzgerald completed a Drydocking Selected Restricted Availability (DSRA) period at Yokosuka Naval Shipyard then left in Apr for a Spring Patrol and in Oct. for a Fall Patrol. In Nov. the Fitzgerald took part in ANNUALEX. April 7, 2007 USS Fitzgerald participated in Exercise Malabar 07-01, with the Indian Navy, off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. In Aug. the guided-missile destroyer took part in Exercise Valiant Shield 2007. In Oct. USS Fitzgerald participated in the 19th Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX).

In Feb. 2008 USS Fitzgerald participated in an undersea warfare exercise while underway in the western Pacific with the Nimitz (CVN 68) CSG and elements from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

Mar. 2009 USS Fitzgerald participated in Multi-Sail '09 exercise off the coast of Okinawa. In Apr. DDG 62 arrived in Qingdao, People's Republic of China, to take part in the 2009 International Fleet Review. In Sep. USS Fitzgerald returned home after a summer deployment with the George Washington (CVN 73) CSG. USS Fitzgerald participated in a multinational Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) exercise Deep Sabre II in Oct. In Dec. sailors aboard the Fitzgerald were among the first to use a new version of the Undersea Warfare Decision Support System (USW-DSS), employing it for the first time in the Ship Anti-Submarine Warfare Readiness and Evaluation Measurement (SHAREM) 163 exercise.

In Apr. 2010 USS Fitzgerald participated in the Multi-Sail 2010 exercise off the coast of Okinawa. In Nov. USS Fitzgerald departed for joint naval drills with the Republic of Korea naval forces in the waters west of the Korean Peninsula.

Feb. 2011 USS Fitzgerald participated in a Ship Anti-Submarine Warfare Readiness and Evaluation Measurement (SHAREM) exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, off the coast of Okinawa. In Mar. 2011, in company with the carrier Ronald Reagan, the USS Fitzgerald was deployed off northeastern Honshu, Japan to assist with relief efforts after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. In Jun USS Fitzgerald departed for a Summer Patrol as part of the USS George Washington CSG. In Jul. USS Fitzgerald participated in Talisman Sabre 2011, a joint-exercise with the Royal Australian Navy. In Oct. DDG 62 participated in joint anti-terrorism exercise Pacific Eagle 2011 with the Russian Federation Navy (RFN) forces off Mariana Islands. In Oct the Fitzgerald participated in ANNUALEX 2011. In Nov. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario were on board the USS Fitzgerald in Manila, Philippines when they signed the Manila Declaration calling for multilateral talks to resolve maritime disputes. This act also marked the 60th anniversary of the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.

Jan. 2012 USS Fitzgerald participated in Multi-Sail 2012, off the coast of Okinawa. In Jul the guided-missile destroyer departed Yokosuka for a Friends and Family Day Cruise. In Aug. USS Fitzgerald went on a Fall Patrol, as part of the GW Carrier Strike Group. In Sep. the Fitzgerald participated in exercise Valiant Shield 2012.

The ship participated in FTI-01, a complex missile defense flight test that shot down five ballistic missile and cruiser missile targets, in Pacific waters on 24 October 2012. Fitzgerald, the USA’s 32nd and 94th Air and Missile Defense Command, and the USAF’s 613th Air and Space Operations Center used an integrated air and ballistic missile defense architecture involving multiple sensors and missile defense systems to detect, track, and shoot down the targets. While the other commands engaged targets over areas as far apart as Wake Island and Kwajalein Island, Fitzgerald’s Aegis system tracked a low flying cruise missile over water and the destroyer splashed her attacker. She also tracked a short-range ballistic missile, firing an SM-3 Block 1A Standard surface-to-air missile that missed the target.


Fitzgerald and merchantman ASX Crystal collided at approximately 0220 on 17 June 2017, while the destroyer operated about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka. ASX Crystal, a 29,060 ton Filipino-flagged container ship owned by Olympic Steamship Co. SA of Panama, carried a cargo of 1,080 containers from Nagoya, Japan, for Tokyo Bay, where she expected to arrive during the 1st dog watch. The collision staved-in Fitzgerald’s forward starboard side under the pilothouse, and tore a large puncture below the waterline, opening the hull to the sea. The impact caused significant damage and associated flooding to two berthing spaces, a machinery room, and the radio room. The collision also hit the Captain’s Cabin, trapping Cmdr. Bryce Benson, Fitzgerald's commanding officer, inside. The ship’s company heroically prevented the flooding from spreading catastrophically, and quickly began dewatering, inspected the damage, and developed a plan for repairs and inspection of the spaces. “It could have been much worse,” Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, Commander Seventh Fleet, observed during a press conference at Yokosuka on 18 June. “All of our thoughts and prayers are with the Fitzgerald crew and their families,” Adm. John M. Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, said during a separate conference. “Right now we are focused on two things: the safety of the ship and the well-being of the Sailors,” Adm. Scott H. Swift, Commander Pacific Fleet, added. “We thank our Japanese partners for their assistance.”

A Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter flew Cmdr. Benson, a native of Green Bay, Wisc., to Naval Hospital Yokosuka, where he was reported in stable condition. In addition, a Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawk of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12 evacuated two injured sailors from the destroyer ashore for further treatment. At the outset, seven sailors were unaccounted for following the collision and Dewey (DDG-105) and a Boeing P-8A Poseidon worked with Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers Hamagiri (DD.155) and Ohnami (DD.111), training support ship Enshu (AMS.4305), a Lockheed P-3C Orion, two helicopters, and Japanese Coast Guard vessels Izanami and Kano, and searched the area for the missing sailors in case they were lost overboard.

Damage control teams, however, came across the seven Fitzgerald sailors who had been initially accounted as missing, in the flooded berthing compartments. The continuing efforts found the bodies of 37-year-old FC1 Gary L. Rehm Jr., from Elyria, Ohio; 24-year-old PS1 Xavier A. Martin from Halethorpe, Md.; 26-year-old GM2 Noe Hernandez from Weslaco, Texas; 23-year-old FC2 Carlos V. G. Sibayan from Chula Vista, Calif.; 25-year-old ST3 Ngoc T. T. Huynh from Oakville, Conn.; 25-year-old YN3 Shingo A. Douglass from San Diego, Calif.; and 19-year-old GMSN Dakota K. Rigsby from Palmyra, Va.

The collision crumpled part of ASX Crystal’s bow, but the ship did not report injuries among the 20 crewmembers on board and resumed her voyage. One of Fitzgerald’s two shafts locked but the crew kept the ship steaming on a single screw and she returned to port under her own power. Watchstanders navigated Fitzgerald into busy Yokosuka with a magnetic compass and backup navigation equipment, and tugs then eased the warship to the pier and she moored at 1815 on 17 June. Vice Adm. Aucoin joined family members on the pier that greeted the ship. “This has been a difficult day,” Aucoin admitted. “I am humbled by the bravery and tenacity of the Fitzgerald crew.” “I want to highlight the extraordinary courage of the Fitzgerald sailors,” Rear Adm. Charles F. Williams, Commander Battle Force Seventh Fleet, Task Force 70, and Carrier Strike Group 5, reflected, “who contained the flooding, stabilized the ship and sailed her back to Yokosuka despite the exceptionally trying circumstances.” “We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our fellow shipmates,” Acting Secretary of the Navy Sean J. Stackley stated the following day.

Fellow sailors, family members, and civilian employees from local commands and agencies including the United Service Organizations, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Port Operations, Navy Exchange, and the Chief Petty Officer Mess, reached out to the crew and their grieving families with food, blankets, clothes, and emotional support. The Navy furthermore provided around-the-clock chaplain and counselor care to crewmembers and their loved ones at the USS Fitzgerald Emergency Family Assistance Center, located on the Command Readiness Center’s 4th floor at Yokosuka. Vice Adm. Aucoin announced that he initiated a JAGMAN investigation (an administrative investigation governed by regulations contained within the Manual of the Judge Advocate General) into the incident, and that there would also be a safety inquiry. The U.S. Coast Guard was to take the lead on the marine casualty investigation.

 

William Charles Fitzgerald

william c. fitzgerlad lieutenant us navy navy cross vietnam ddg uss
 

 

Lieutenant William C. Fitzgerald (January 28, 1938 - August 7, 1967):

USS Fitzgerald is named in honor of Lieutenant William C. Fitzgerald, who was posthumously awarded the U. S. Navy's highest decoration for valor, the Navy Cross, for extraordinary heroism in Vietnam.


Bill Fitzgerald was born 28 January 1938 in Montpelier, Vermont, second child and first son of Louis and Mildred Mary Fitzgerald. His father was a career Navy man who retired as a Chief Petty Officer. Bill grew up in the local area and graduated from Montpelier High School in June 1956. Following graduation, Bill followed in his father's footsteps and enlisted in the United States Navy, As an enlisted sailor, Bill served in USS Samuel B. Roberts (DD 823)., USS Hugh Purvis (DD 709), and USS Gearing (DD 710).Bill also served with Utility Squadron SIX at NAS Norfolk, Virginia, while working on the Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter DASH) program. Seaman William Fitzgerald eventually earned selection for officer training and appointment to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.

During Midshipman Fitzgerald's days at Annapolis, he became well known as an outstanding leader and athlete. Bill Fitzgerald excelled in Naval Education, softball, football, fencing, basketball, and tennis. Additionally, Bill developed a great sense of camaraderie with his peers, and from his enlisted experience he had an intuitive grasp for being a great naval officer. Midshipman Fitzgerald earned his commission in the U.S. Navy on 5 June 1963. After graduation from Annapolis, Ensign Fitzgerald reported to USS Charles H. Roan (DD 853), where he rose from "Boot Ensign" to Weapons Department Head, a position of great responsibility. Following Roan, Lieutenant Fitzgerald reported to Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California, where he attended counterinsurgency training. Upon completion he was assigned duties as the senior U.S. advisor at Costal Defense Group SIXTEEN in Vietnam. This group's compound was located adjacent to the village of Co Luy, near the delta of the Tra Khuc River, and about 70 miles southeast of Danang. In this position, he advised the South Vietnamese Navy on defense measures and on the capture of military supplies and contraband destined for Viet Cong forces.

At about 0300 on 7 August 1967, Costal Group Sixteen's compound came under vicious attack by two Viet Cong battalions. The assault began with an intense mortar barrage followed immediately by the advance of troops. Fitzgerald, the senior American commander, immediately ordered a retreat of the civilians within the compound. Because of the compound's location adjacent to a river and the aggressors position, the only escape route was via water in small boats. Lieutenant Fitzgerald and three others delayed their retreat as long as possible in order to provide covering fire and to direct fire from surrounding friendly forces. Many calls were made to orbiting gunship aircraft, artillery units, and "Swift"-type fast river patrol boats to provide defensive fire. The Viet Cong attack however, was swift and well coordinated. It soon became apparent that the South Vietnamese forces were decimated and that the American bunker was the sole remaining source of resistance. As the situation deteriorated, Fitzgerald ordered his last three remaining defenders to retreat while he used arms fire to cover their escape. Fitzgerald was mortally wounded in this action.

In honor of Lieutenant William C. Fitzgerald's loyal and selfless dedication to his people, he was posthumously awarded the U. S. Navy's highest decoration for valor The Navy Cross. Additionally, he was awarded the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign ribbon bar.

LT Fitzgerald was survived by his wife Betty Ann, and their children. Mrs. Fitzgerald was designated sponsor of the ship named for her late husband.

USS Fitzgerald's motto - " PROTECT YOUR PEOPLE " - is a lasting tribute to the sacrifice Bill made for the people he commanded.

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another biography:

William Charles Fitzgerald - born on 28 January 1938 at Montpelier, Vt. - the second child and first son of Louis and Mildred M. Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald graduated from Montpelier High School in June 1956, and followed in his father’s footsteps (his father had retired from the Navy as a chief petty officer) by enlisting in the Navy.

Fitzgerald served in destroyers Samuel B. Roberts (DD-823), Hugh Purvis (DD-709), and Gearing (DD-710), as well as with Utility Squadron 6 while working on the Gyrodyne QH-50 Drone Antisubmarine Helicopter (DASH) program at Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va. Seaman Fitzgerald then attained an appointment to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. He excelled as a leader while at the Naval Academy, and also as an athlete in softball, football, fencing, basketball, and tennis, graduating on 5 June 1963. Fitzgerald returned to the fleet and served in destroyer Charles H. Roan (DD-853), eventually becoming her Weapons Department Head. He married Betty A. Dalton of Montpelier on 18 April 1964, and their union produced three children: Neil W., Penni L., and Lynda K.

Fitzgerald completed counterinsurgency training at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif., and then deployed to Coastal Group 16 in South Vietnam. The group established a base near the village of Co Luy, near the mouth of the Tra Khuc River, about 70 miles southeast of Da Nang, and monitored vessels smuggling troops and weapons to the People’s Liberation Armed Forces (PLAF).

The PLAF launched a number of attacks on allied installations throughout August 1967, and they moved a force of more than battalion strength against Coastal Group 16’s base. At 0300 on 7 August they opened fire with an intense mortar barrage on the base. The group’s U.S. advisors – Lt. Fitzgerald, Lt. (j.g.) Anthony C. Williams, Chief Engineman Harold H. Gunn, and Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Leo E. Pearman -- radioed for support. A U.S. Navy inshore patrol craft, PCF-20, operated nearby and raced to the camp within 15 minutes, Fitzgerald directing the boat to fire on the enemy mortar and automatic weapons teams deployed across the river.

The PLAF resolutely pressed their attack, however, and despite PCF-20’s support penetrated the base’s northern mine defenses, killing South Vietnamese Lt. (j.g.) Nguyen N. Trong, VNN, the group’s commander, and many of his men. An assault group estimated at more than 100 men detached from their main force and overran the central section of the base, and Fitzgerald and his men shifted positions to their bunker and continued to fire at the attackers. Another patrol craft, PCF-75, reinforced the beleaguered garrison at 0340 and opened fire at the PLAF, joined five minutes later by South Vietnamese patrol escort PCE-10.

The enemy troops nonetheless surged over the defenders by 0345. Fitzgerald realized that the men in his bunker comprised the last organized pocket of resistance in the camp, and he ordered an artillery strike on his position while also directing his men to escape to the river.
Fitzgerald valiantly remained behind to direct the artillery fire to cover his comrades’ withdrawal. He then attempted to join them but an enemy round struck Fitzgerald fatally in the back of his head as he reached the exit. Fragments wounded Williams in his face and chest and Gunn and Pearman sustained minor wounds, but all three reached the river. A fisherman rescued Williams and took him to a USA hospital at Qui Nhon, and a Coastal Group junk picked up the other two Americans, treated them for their wounds, and returned them to the base at 0430 because the PLAF filtered back into the jungle.

Additional vessels reached the area, including radar picket escort ship Camp (DER-251), patrol gunboat Gallup (PG-85), PCF-15, and PCF-54, while a USAF Douglas C-47 gunship circled overhead. Some of these vessels and the gunship blasted the enemy as they retired, and the boats evacuated 40 South Vietnamese troops to Camp, 15 suffering serious wounds and being subsequently flown by helicopter to a South Vietnamese hospital at Quang Ngai. Further reinforcements secured the base later that day. Fitzgerald received the Navy Cross and Purple Heart posthumously.

source: US Naval History & Heritage Command
 

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