USS Fitzgerald departs the Huntington-Ingalls Industries shipyard for sea trials off the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Navy photo

The guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, which was seriously damaged in a collision that killed two local sailors, returned to sea on Monday following two years of repairs.

The Arleigh Burke-class ship was restored and modernized at the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi following the deadly collision in 2017 with a Philippine merchant ship off the coast of Japan.

Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, of San Diego, and Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlosvictor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, of Chula Vista, were among seven sailors who died in the nighttime accident.

The collision was blamed on poor watch procedure, and both the commanding and executive officers of the destroyer were later relieved of duty.

While the ship is at sea in the Gulf of Mexico, the crew will test navigation, damage control, mechanical and electrical systems, combat systems, communications and propulsion to ensure that the ship is ready to return to service

“We are excited to take the next step to get Fitzgerald back out to sea where the ship belongs. My crew is looking forward to moving on board the ship and continuing our training to ensure we are ready to return to the fleet,” said Cmdr. Scott Wilbur, Fitzgerald’s commanding officer.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.