In the early morning hours of 17 June 2017, the ship was involved in a collision with the container ship MV ACX Crystal, seriously damaging the destroyer. Seven of Fitzgerald's crew were killed. Several others were injured, including the commanding officer, Commander Bryce Benson.
The keel was laid down by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, 9 February 1993; launched 29 January 1994; sponsored by Mrs. Betty A. Fitzgerald, widow of the late Lt. Fitzgerald; and commissioned 14 October 1995, in Newport, Rhode Island, Commander Gary M. Holst in command. She was then homeported in Naval Base San Diego, California.
In early April 2004, it was announced that Fitzgerald would be one of fifteen destroyers and three cruisers that would be deployed to counter ballistic missile threats worldwide. She arrived in Yokosuka, Japan on 30 September 2004, to join the U.S. 7th Fleet after participating in a personnel exchange known as "Super Swap". One-hundred forty sailors from the destroyer O'Brien transferred to Fitzgerald and 95 of Fitzgerald's sailors joined the decommissioning unit for O'Brien. She is now home-ported at Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan, and is part of Destroyer Squadron 15.
In March 2011, in company with the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, Fitzgerald was deployed off northeastern Honshu, Japan, to assist with relief efforts after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
On 16 November 2011, while docked in Manila, Philippines, Fitzgerald acted as the site where US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario signed the Manila Declaration calling for multilateral talks to resolve maritime disputes and to mark the 60th anniversary of the American–Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty.
On 1 June 2017, Fitzgerald, operating out of Yokosuka Naval Base, was noted for participating in routine exercises with Japan that were described in the media as a show of force to North Korea. She sailed with the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, the cruiser Shiloh, and the destroyers Barry, McCampbell, and Mustin, joined by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, cruiser Lake Champlain, and destroyers Wayne E. Meyer and Michael Murphy, and Japanese ships Hyūga and Ashigara.
About 1:30 a.m. on 17 June 2017, Fitzgerald collided with ACX Crystal, a Philippine-flagged container ship measured at 29,060 gross tons and almost 40,000 tons deadweight. Most of Fitzgerald's crew of about 300 were asleep at the time. The collision occurred about 56 nautical miles (104 kilometres; 64 miles) southwest of her homeport of Yokosuka, Japan.
The starboard side of Fitzgerald was seriously damaged. The container ship's bulbous bow penetrated the destroyer's hull below the waterline, flooding a machinery space, the radio room, and two crew berthing spaces. The captain's cabin was crushed. Seven crewmen were reported missing after the collision, but their bodies were found the next day after rescue workers gained access to flooded compartments. Several others were injured, including the ship's commanding officer and two sailors whom the Japanese evacuated by helicopter.
Within a day of the collision, investigations were begun by the United States Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, Japanese Coast Guard, Japan Transport Safety Board, and the insurers of the Crystal. The U.S. Navy's Manual of the Judge Advocate General (JAGMAN) investigation concerns the crew's operations, and is led by Rear Adm. Brian Fort, a former commander of USS Gonzalez, who now commands Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific. The U.S. and Japanese coast guards are investigating the cause of the accident.
According to early damage estimates, repairs for the damage to Fitzgerald are expected to surpass the $250 million cost for repairs to the USS Cole (DDG-67) inflicted in the 2000 bombing by at least double, and it should take under a year. Repairs on the ship may overlap with planned service life extension and electronics upgrades, increasing the cost further. Fitzgerald is to be transported on a heavy lift ship from Japan to the United States in September 2017.
|#||Name||Start of tenure||End of tenure|
|16||CDR John Fray||11 July 2017||Assumed temporary command while CDR Benson recuperates from injuries he sustained in the collision|
|16||CDR Sean Babbitt||17 June 2017||11 July 2017 (CDR Babbitt assumed temporary command following the incapacitation of CDR Benson)|
|15||CDR Bryce Benson||13 May 2017||17 June 2017|
|14||CDR Robert Shu||15 December 2015||13 May 2017|
|13||CDR Christopher S. England||29 May 2014||December 2015|
|12||CDR Jonathan Lowe Schmitz||17 December 2012||29 May 2014|
|11||CDR Brian T. Mutty||26 July 2011||17 December 2012|
|10||CDR Dennis Velez||18 May 2010||26 July 2011|
|9||CDR Richard John Dromerhauser||31 October 2008||18 May 2010|
|8||CDR Daniel P. Dusek||4 May 2007||31 October 2008|
|7||CDR David Wayne Hughes||7 September 2005||4 May 2007|
|6||CDR Bradley Joseph Smith||24 October 2003||7 September 2005|
|5||CDR John Phillip Neagley||12 December 2001||24 October 2003|
|4||CDR Alfred Collins||19 April 2000||12 December 2001|
|3||CDR James Stephen Grant||23 October 1998||19 April 2000|
|2||CDR Charles Walt Martoglio||30 April 1997||23 October 1998|
|1||CDR Gary Michael Holst||14 October 1995||30 April 1997|
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