The Navy's newest Aegis Guided Missile Destroyer Higgins (DDG 76) will join the U.S. Pacific Fleet Saturday, April 24, during a 10 a.m. (EDT) commissioning ceremony in Port Everglades, Fla.
Marine Corps Gen. Charles E. Wilhelm, commander-in-chief, U.S. Southern Command, is the ceremony's principal speaker. In the time-honored Navy tradition, the ship's sponsor, retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Robin L. Higgins, wife of the ship's namesake, will give the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"
The ship honors Marine Corps Col. William Richard Higgins, (1945-1990). Higgins was kidnapped by terrorists in February 1988, while serving as the chief, Observer Group Lebanon and the senior military observer with the U.S. Truce Supervision Organization in the Middle East. After being held captive by terrorists in Lebanon, Higgins was executed. He was officially declared dead on July 6, 1990. The president posthumously awarded Higgins the Presidential Citizens Medal.
Higgins, initially trained as an infantry officer, was a highly accomplished Marine. A 1967 graduate of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, he received his commission as a second lieutenant through the Navy ROTC program. His duty assignments included two tours in the Republic of Vietnam and an appointment as military assistant to the special assistant to the secretary and deputy secretary of defense.
Higgins is the 26th ship of the DDG 51 program and the 15th in this class to be built by Bath Iron Works. Truly multi-mission combatants, Aegis destroyers are the most capable surface warships ever built. They are capable of conducting a variety of missions, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection, in support of the National Military Strategy.
Equipped with the latest weapons, electronics, helicopter support facilities, and propulsion, auxiliary and survivability systems, these destroyers will carry out the U.S. Navy's missions well into the next century. State-of-the-art command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) systems provide their ships' crew with complete situational awareness.
This high tech destroyer is equipped with the Navy's modern Aegis combat weapons system, the world's foremost naval weapons system. Space-age communications, radar and weapons technologies are combined in a single platform for unlimited mission flexibility. The systems include the AN/SPY-1D phased array radar; the MK 41 Vertical Launching System, which fires a combination of up to 90 Standard surface-to-air and Tomahawk surface-to-surface missiles; and the AN/SQQ-89 Antisubmarine Warfare System, with a bow-mounted AN/SQS-53C sonar and AN/SQR-19 towed array. The tactical towed-array sonar provides long-range passive detection of enemy submarines. The hull-mounted sonar can detect and track submarine actively and passively.
Higgins has eight Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers and six MK 46 torpedo tubes, as well as two MK 15 Phalanx close-in weapon systems and a multi-mission, 5"/54 caliber, deck-mounted gun which can be used as an anti-ship weapon, close-in point defense or in support of forces ashore with naval gunfire. Higgins also features the LAMPS MK III Undersea Warfare Control System, with landing and replenishment facilities for the SH-60B helicopter.
Cmdr. James "Red" Smith, a native of Chicago, Ill., will command Higgins. With a crew of 21 officers and 322 enlisted personnel, Higgins will be homeported in San Diego, Calif. The ship is 505 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 66 feet and displaces approximately 8,580 tons when fully loaded. Four gas-turbine engines power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.