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USS John S. McCain makes return to sea following 2017 collision

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The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain returned to sea after upgrades and repairs following a 2017 collision that resulted in the deaths of 10 sailors.

The ship, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, completed its in-port phase of testing at Yokosuka, Japan, the Navy said on Sunday, and headed out to open sea for tests of its onboard systems.

“This whole crew is eager to get back to sea, and that’s evident in the efforts they’ve made over the last two years to bring the ship back to fighting shape, and the energy they’ve put into preparing themselves for the rigors of at-sea operations,” Cmdr. Ryan T. Easterday, the ship’s McCain’s commanding officer, said in a statement.

The crew will perform training and tests until the ship can return to operations with the Navy’s Destroyer Squadron 15, based in Japan. While being repaired, the ship received upgrades to its computer network, antenna systems, radar array and combat weapons.

Workers from Maine’s Bath Iron Works, the company that built the ship in the early 1990s, were involved in the repairs made by contractor Sumitomo Heavy Industries. The ship left dry dock in Japan 11 months ago for pierside repairs and upgrades.

The McCain collided with a chemical tanker on Aug. 21, 2017 off the coast of Singapore, and has since undergone repairs. A report issued in March 2018 by the Transport Safety Investigation Bureau of Singapore, said a “series of missteps” led to the warship making a turn before striking the privately-owned Alnic MC tanker.

A 163-page Navy report, five months after the crash, said that crew members aboard the USS John S. McCain were overworked, unprepared and unhappy in the year leading up to the collision. It cited a survey, which included questions regarding exhaustion, job satisfaction, organizational effectiveness and leadership in which the 142 crew members rated 17 of 18 major categories as “below service average.”

The collision occurred four months after the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald struck a container ship off Japan. Seven Navy crew members died in that collision.

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