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USS Higgins Leaves San Diego For Western Pacific Ocean

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The guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins left San Diego today on an independent deployment to the Western Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and Middle East.

The Navy reported that the Higgins and its crew of more than 300 sailors will maintain the Navy's presence in the region and conduct goodwill activities with partner nations.

The Higgins provides anti-air, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities and can operate independently or with an associated strike group.

"I am extremely pleased with our crew," said Cmdr. Allen Johnson, the vessel's commanding officer. "They have proven themselves throughout a rigorous year-long training cycle and are fully capable to perform the mission tasking that we will be assigned."

The 16-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.

The Higgins last deployed two years ago.