At 0130 Saturday, 17 June, the crew members onboard USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) suddenly were awakened by crunching steel and the cold, dark ocean roaring into their home. The bulbous underwater bow of a 40,000-ton merchant ship had pierced the hull of the guided-missile destroyer, rapidly flooding a machinery room and two berthing compartments where dozens of Sailors slept. Young Americans quickly were plunged into impossibly difficult split second life-and-death decisions. Unsurprisingly, stories of pure heroism have emerged. In one reported instance, a senior Sailor forced his way into a rapidly flooding berthing compartment to pull shipmates to safety. His mission became a one-way trip, when his comrades were forced to secure the hatch behind him to prevent their ship from sinking. Seven Sailors ultimately perished.
What Did the Fitzgerald's Sailors Die For?
By Lieutenant Michael Keating, U.S. Navy Reserve