By R. Mitchell –
The Navy will christen its newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, the future USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123), during a 6:30 p.m. CDT ceremony Saturday, April 24, in Pascagoula, Miss.
The ship’s namesake, Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee, served as the second Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps in 1911 and was also the first living woman recipient of the Navy Cross. When she entered naval service in 1908, she was one of the first 20 women, known as the “Sacred Twenty,” to join the newly established Navy Nurse Corps and contributed her nursing skills to the Navy during the First World War. This is the second ship named after Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee. The first ship, USS Higbee (DD 806), was the first combat warship named after a female member of the U.S. Navy.
The Honorable Ray Mabus, 75th Secretary of the Navy, will deliver the christening ceremony’s principal address. Mr. Jay Stefany, acting assistant secretary of the Navy (Research, Development, and Acquisition), and Rear Adm. Cynthia Kuehner, Commander, Naval Medical Forces Support Command will also provide remarks. In a time-honored Navy tradition, the ship’s sponsors, Ms. Louisa Dixon, Ms. Virginia Munford, and Ms. R. Pickett Wilson, will christen the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow.
“The future USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee will serve for decades as a reminder of Ms. Higbee’s service to our nation and her unwavering support of a strong and healthy Navy and Marine Corps team,” said Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker. “This ship honors not only her service but that of all of our Navy nurses who support the strength and wellbeing of our service members and their families.”
The ship will be the 73rd Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and is one of 20 ships currently under contract for the DDG 51 program. The ship is configured as a Flight IIA destroyer, which enables power projection and delivers quick reaction time, high firepower, and increased electronic countermeasures capability for anti-air warfare. The future USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee will be 509.5 feet long and 59 feet wide, with a displacement of 9,496 tons. It will be homeported in San Diego.
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