One of the last of the Navy’s Flight IIA Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyers was commissioned in a ceremony on Saturday.
USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123) formally entered the fleet during a ceremony in Key West, Fla.
The ship’s namesake Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee was the second superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps during World War I and the influenza pandemic, according to a 2017 piece in Naval History Magazine. She was awarded the Navy Cross in 1920 for, “distinguished service in the line of her profession and unusual and conspicuous devotion to duty as superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps.”
“The story of Lenah Higbee is the story of past, present and future Navy nurses and the undeniable, inseparable role of the Navy nurse in defense of our nation,” Rear Adm. Cynthia Kuehner, current director of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps, said on Saturday.
“In honoring her selfless service we ensure that the permanence of her spirit is breathed into every space and crevice of this magnificent vessel as she comes to life.”
Other speakers included Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday.
“Our Navy, and in particular, our surface fleet, sends a strong signal that we remain committed to our values. Values that we share with our allies and partners around the world,” Del Toro said in his speech.
Gilday highlighted the role of the Navy Nurse Corps in the service.
“It is fitting we commission this ship this week, which is National Nurses Week, and particularly this day, the 13th of May. On this day our Navy Nurse Corps was established creating the institution that is the lifeblood of Navy Medicine,” he said. “Somebody once said, save a life and you’re a hero. Save a hundred lives, you’re a nurse.”
The destroyer is the last Flight IIA to be built at HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., ahead of a transition to Flight III.
The first Flight III, Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), built around the Raytheon AN/SPY-6 active electronically scanned array air search radar and will assume of the role of the aging Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser as the air defense platform in the carrier strike group.
Ingalls is also building the Flight III destroyers Ted Stevens (DDG-128), Jeremiah Denton (DDG-129) and George M. Neal (DDG-131).