On the Fitzgerald, the list of maintenance jobs ran into the hundreds. Most of them were minor: a request for new coolant for a refrigeration unit, another for a certain type of washer.
But a dozen or so were considered more serious. They included problems with the ship’s primary navigation system. It was the oldest such system among destroyers based in Japan. It was running on Windows 2000, even though other ships had been upgraded. It could not display information from the AIS.
The broken email system had a “major impact” on the ship’s day-to-day operations. Microsoft Outlook did not work. Nor could commanders communicate over a classified email system. The ship’s entire network was suffering. Officers could not access sailors’ work profiles, order parts or even keep track of new repair requests.
Technicians were constantly fixing the SPS-73, the other main navigational radar on the Fitzgerald. Sometimes, the radar would show the destroyer heading the wrong way. At other times, it simply locked up and would have to be shut down. The SPS-73’s antenna was nearing the end of its life, and had been scheduled for replacement in April. But the maintenance had been delayed when the Fitzgerald was assigned to patrol North Korea.
A third radar, used for warfare, was slow to acquire targets, but technicians had installed a temporary fix that became permanent. “Problem known since 2012. Declared hopeless,” read notes attached to the repair report.