YOKOSUKA, Japan -- The forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) returned to Yokosuka, Japan, Nov. 10 concluding a routine deployment.
Higgins’ return marks the end of a six-month patrol that began in May and took the ship and crew from the northern Pacific Ocean to the South China Sea and back.
"Our patrol this year was a great illustration of how much ground 7th Fleet covers and the disparate environments and challenges found throughout the area of operations,” said Cmdr. Joseph McGettigan, Higgins commanding officer. “We started back in May operating Northeast of Japan near the Kuril Islands, with fairly cold temperatures, and quickly found ourselves in the heat, crossing the equator south of Guam, a few weeks later. At the end of 6 months of operations, we have travelled all around the South China Sea and back to Japan again. I am very impressed with how well the crew operated as a team and really came together as a family to support each other throughout our time at sea."
In August, Higgins joined the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) conducting multi-lateral operation in support of Indo-Pacific deployments for JMSDF, RAN, and RCN in the South China Sea. The time with Allies and partners included a series of exercises such as live-fire events, flight operations, and several strait transits.
Higgins also participated in cooperative maritime exercise Pacific Vanguard (PACVAN) 2022 alongside maritime forces from RAN, JMSDF, and Republic of Korea Navy, conducting maritime operations, anti-submarine warfare operations, air warfare operations, live-fire missile events, and replenishment at sea.
“Working with other countries strengthened our international relations as a whole,” said Fire Controlman (Aegis) 2nd Class, Stephen Baugh, from Washington, D.C. “Coordinating with members of the Australian and Canadian navies showed us the technological and combatant advancement the U.S. as a whole is always striving to achieve; especially with our Allies.”
During the deployment, Higgins visited foreign ports to include Brunei, the Philippines and Thailand. During these visits, Higgins Sailors were able to participate in relationship building opportunities such as a community relations event at the Child Development and Protection Center in Pattaya, Thailand, and with “Lil Bravehearts,” an organization in Manila, Philippines devoted to caring for and supporting the families of children with Down syndrome. Sailors also explored and experienced the host country’s rich culture with the locals through Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) scheduled tours and events, and conducted ship tours-hosting distinguished visitors to include the Ambassador of the U.S. to Brunei, members of Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Post 9876, VFW Post 12146 and American Legion Post TH02.
Higgins is assigned to Commander, Task Force 71/Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th fleet’s principal surface force.
Higgins is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest numbered fleet in the world, and with the help of 35 other maritime-nation allies and partners, the U.S. Navy has operated in the Indo-Pacific region for more than 70 years, providing credible, ready forces to help preserve peace and prevent conflict.