SAN DIEGO -- After patrolling the Persian Gulf at a time when the U.S. had no aircraft carriers in the Middle East, the guided missile destroyer USS Higgins will return to San Diego Thursday morning from a 7 1/2-month independent deployment.
When the now-San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt departed the gulf in October, it left the region without an American flattop for the first time since 2007, according to the Navy. It was up to the Higgins and its 300 sailors to provide security during the two months or so before the USS Harry S. Truman arrived on station.
"I could not be more pleased with the hard work and dedication from this crew," said Cmdr. Allen Johnson, commanding officer of the Higgins. "I know we can all reflect on this time we have spent underway and be proud of the contributions we have all made to our nation and national security."
While on station in the Persian Gulf, Higgins sailors rescued four Saudi fishermen whose boat caught fire. The crew was able to retrieve the four men from the water and return them safely to local authorities.
The 17-year-old ship is named for Marine Col. William "Rich" Higgins, a Vietnam veteran who was kidnapped by terrorists in 1988 in Lebanon and later killed.