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DDG 62 Fitzgerald
"Protect Your People"

USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with a merchant vessel at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, 17 June 2017, while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. The ship suffered damage on her starboard side above and below the waterline. The collision resulted in some flooding.

Seven US sailors were missing, while another two-four injured sailors were airlifted from the ship by helicopter. The U.S. and Japan searched nearby waters for the missing sailors. Three compartments on the Fitzgerald flooded, but the U.S. Navy said the ship -- despite being damaged -- was NOT in danger of sinking. It's was unclear what caused the accident.

Fitzgerald is the twelfth of 29 Arleigh Burke class ships authorized to be built. Fitzgerald is 505 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 66 feet and displaces approximately 8,422 tons fully loaded. The ship will have a crew of 26 officers, 24 chief petty officers, and 291 enlisted.

Fitzgerald was christened on Jan. 29, 1994 at Bath, Maine and was commissioned on Oct. 14, 1995 at Newport Rhode Island.

For over two weeks during 2001 the Fitzgerald was tasked with escorting San Don II across the Arabian Gulf to a holding port where it was to be transferred to civilian authorities for disposition. San Don II was found carrying illicit cargo from the waterways of Iraq. Fitzgerald operated as part of multinational interception forces that board and divert vessels like San Don II that are found to be violating United Nations sanctions. At a minimum of twice daily, Fitzgerald conducted small boat operations to transfer supplies and personnel. A health and comfort team boarded and inspected San Don II to check on any safety concerns that developed. Fitzgerald provided security 24 hours a day, ready to respond to the numerous and diverse challenges. San Don II was an aging merchant, whose engineering woes allow them a top speed of five knots. The six-man security team performed creative engineering trouble shooting, shipboard security and safe navigation all at the same time.

In Dec. 2000 the Fitzgerald conducted training exercises with units from the Australian Navy.

The Fitzgerald departed on Nov. 9, 2000 commencing a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf. This was the third Western Pacific deployment in its short but storied five year history. The primary mission of Fitzgerald and the force was maritime interception operations. In addition to maritime interception operations, Fitzgerald provided theater air defense by employing sophisticated radar and fire control systems. Other potential taskings included tactical cruise missile strikes, defense against surface attacks, and submarine prosecution.

For the Fitzgerald, 2000 was a year that included: all phases of the Inter-Deployment Training Cycle (IDTC), participation in the largest and most complex naval exercise in the Pacific Fleet (RIMPAC 2000), Inservice Procurement Board (INSURV) material inspection, live torpedo, Harpoon, 5"/54 and SM-2 missile firings and culminated with a deployment to the troubled Middle East.

Performances during the Inter-Deployment Training Cycle received noteworthy acclaim. The Final Evaluation Problem (FEP) was completed in a single day with outstanding results. A Missile Firing exercise (FIREX I) and Torpedo Firing Exercise (TORPEX) were immensely successful. Moving on to advanced training; Fitzgerald sailed West for Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2000. Through the course of this challenging and highly successful exercise, Fitzgerald: performed duties as Surface Attack Unit Commander for Anti-Submarine Warfare Exercise 00-2, engaged two high speed targets during a Stream Raid exercise and a low-flying (50ft) Supersonic Target with spectacular results, provided emergent astern refueling relief for USS SALVOR as it towed two hulks to the Pacific Missile Range Facility, successfully engaged one of the hulks during a HARPOONEX, participated in the complex Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD) exercise, PACIFIC BLITZ, and performed Officer in Tactical Command duties during Exercise TEAMWORK NORTH 00. The crew's finely honed skills were manifested again during Mid-East Force Deployment Exercise (MEFEX) Phases I, II and III, which culminated in Texas Thunder, a 2-day Tomahawk exercise in which Fitzgerald performed duties as TSC and LAC simultaneously.

Fitzgerald hosted numerous inspections and visits during the year and received superlative marks in the Medical and Dental Readiness Inspections, Explosive Safety Inspection, and COMNAVSAFECEN Safety Survey. Fitzgerald's excellent material condition was validated during a Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) visit in August. High marks were attained in cleanliness and preservation, while Fitzgerald's quality of shipboard life was evaluated as being "above fleet average". All other evaluations and assessments remained current through the competitive cycle.

In the way of innovation, Fitzgerald introduced many new procedures and Systems designed to improve overall quality of life. Fitzgerald was chosen to receive a Textile ducting system that decreases the amount of ambient noise in ventilation system flow. Fitzgerald greatly enhanced its operational capabilities, as well as crew morale, with the completion of the IT-21 Increment Five install. Fitzgerald's inventive use of the Battle Force Team Trainer (BFTT) continued to pave the way for the fleet-wide implementation of this important training system.

As the "show ship" on the San Diego waterfront, Fitzgerald continued to represent the Surface Warfare community in the most positive light. The crew was very active in community service activities, including: a Maui beach clean up project, the Meade Elementary School mentoring program and a vigorous Personnel Exchange Program (PEP) with foreign sailors during RIMPAC 2000. Fitzgerald's Navy and Marine Corps Relief effort was first among all Commander, Naval Surface Force, U. S. Pacific Fleet destroyers.

In USS Fitzgerald, combat readiness and mission accomplishment created a cause and effect attitude that drove the crew to generate exemplary results in every endeavor, but not at all costs. Quality of life was preserved through careful planning and personnel management. The ship sustained a twelve-section duty rotation that provided every Sailor quality time off while retaining ample time for mission planning and execution. Our commitment to Safety, Mission Excellence and Warrior Spirit have manifested itself in a warship ready to execute any tasking, at any time, and in any place.

The USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was awarded the Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendation for its role in the apprehension of a suspected drug smuggling vessel off San Diego, Calif in 1997. After a radio call from the Coast Guard in San Diego during a January training exercise, Fitzgerald was released from the USS Constellation (CV 64) Battle Group to search for the suspected smuggler. The guided missile destroyer used its sensors to find the vessel and begin surveillance. Teaming with the Coast Guard Cutter Point Hobart, the vessel was subsequently boarded and then seized when the boarding team found 887 pounds of marijuana. Two Mexican nationals were arrested.

The U.S. Navy announced on April 28, 2004 that the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald will be forward-deployed to Japan in late July 2004. Fitzgerald, was at the time homeported in San Diego, and was replacing the destroyer USS O'Brien (DD 975), as part of the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed naval forces. On Sept. 30, 2004, USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) arrived at its new forward-deployed port in Yokosuka, Japan.

Criminal charges were filed 16 January 2018 against the commanding officers of two U.S. Navy warships that collided with commercial vessels in the Pacific last year, killing a total of 17 sailors. Commander Bryce Benson of the USS Fitzgerald and Commander Alfredo Sanchez of the USS John S. McCain will be charged with negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and endangering a ship, according to a statement issued by the Navy.

Seven sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald were killed when the destroyer slammed into a Philippine container ship off the Japanese coast in June 2017. Two months later, ten sailors were killed when the USS John S. McCain named after the father and grandfather of U.S. Senator John McCain, both of them prominent admirals collided with an oil tanker near Singapore. Benson and Sanchez had both been relieved of their duties. Three other officers on the USS Fitzgerald two lieutenants and a lieutenant junior grade faced the same charges as Benson. A chief petty officer aboard the USS John S. McCain was charged with dereliction of duty.

Shield & Crest

The Fitzgerald family coat of arms (a white shield with a red saltire) provides the foundation for the coat of arms for USS FITZGERALD. The shield signifies defense, while the saltire connotes strength and its red color represents valor and action. This traditional design has been modified by the addition of a blue cross paty interlaced with a gold annulet and four shamrocks. The cross commemorates the Navy Cross posthumously awarded to Lieutenant William Charles Fitzgerald for extraordinary heroism in the Vietnam battle that took his life. The annulet symbolizes the continuity of everlasting hope, fidelity and unity. The four shamrocks represent Lieutenant Fitzgerald's Irish family and heritage.

The sword and cutlass crossed behind the shield depict Lieutenant Fitzgerald's personal experiences as both an officer and enlisted sailor, as well as the professional excellence and teamwork in the United States Navy. The dolphins flanking the shield signify maritime dominance and allude to USS FITZGERALD's role in preserving America's command of the seas.

The trident, a traditional symbol of maritime prowess, represents both Lieutenant Fitzgerald's graduation from the U. S. Naval Academy and USS FITZGERALD's war fighting capabilities. Each tine of the trident depicts separate warfare areas -- air, surface and sub-surface -- in which FITZGERALD possesses unmatched strengths. Lions, the traditional symbol for strength and courage on land, support each side of the trident. They commemorate the circumstances under which Lieutenant Fitzgerald gave his life and to signify the eternal vigilance and teamwork necessary to project America's maritime power ashore.

The scroll, in our national colors of red, white, and blue and emblazoned with the motto "PROTECT YOUR PEOPLE," bears testimony to the ideals and actions exemplified throughout the life of William Charles Fitzgerald. This motto also links the Fitzgerald's ancient family history -- their Gallic war cry translates as "Defend the castle forever" -- with the gallantry, dedication and extraordinary heroism of Lieutenant Fitzgerald and the honored traditions of the United States Navy.

William Charles Fitzgerald

USS FITZGERALD is named in honor of Lieutenant William Charles Fitzgerald, USN, who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism on 7 August 1967 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 Coastal 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, Coastal 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 convering 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 small 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.

Fitzgerald Hall at the Surface Warfare Officers School Command in Newport, Rhode Island, also is named for Lieutenant Fitzgerald.

No previous U.S. Navy ships have borne this name.

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Page last modified: 05-02-2018 13:19:07 ZULU