SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- After a humanitarian mission to Haiti, and an independent deployment of more than six months, the guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) returned to San Diego Feb. 3.
Higgins was greeted by hundreds of eager friends and family members who gathered to welcome home the crew.
Higgins was diverted to Port-au-Prince, Haiti while en route to San Diego from the Mediterranean and was the first U.S. Navy ship to arrive in Haiti for humanitarian assistance after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake ravaged the small nation. Higgins also circumnavigated the globe and visited 14 ports, some of which included Turkey, Italy and Singapore.
"It's great to be back," said Commanding Officer Cmdr. Carl Meuser. "We were just out there doing what Navy ships do every day. We just happened to go around the world and then be in the position to be the first Navy ship on scene in Haiti."
While in Haiti, the ship lodged medical personnel who were treating victims ashore, and served as a refueling flight deck for Navy and Coast Guard helicopters transporting supplies and performing medical evacuations.
"It was very hard for me," said crew member and Haitian native Engineman 1st Class (SW) Ernst Gedeus. "I was a translator for people who needed treatment. They told me their symptoms and then I told the doctor so they could get proper care and treatment. It was great to see the whole world come together to provide aid and I am proud to be a part of that."
Higgins crew members provided basic medical treatment at a joint field hospital by carrying injured personnel to helicopters. Higgins also provided support to the hospital ship USS Comfort (T-AH 20) and the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).
"We didn't expect to go into Haiti," said Higgins Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Bobby Maddox. "I am proud of the way the Sailors on this ship responded, and all that they have done."
The ship conducted Maritime Domain Awareness Operations in the Eastern
While off the coast of Lebanon, a ceremonial wreath-laying was held near Beirut where Col. William Richard Higgins, a U.S. Marine, was captured and killed while serving on a peace-keeping mission in Lebanon. Higgins also rendered honors to the victims of the Beirut Barracks Bombing on the 26th anniversary of the attack.
During its stay in the 6th Fleet Area of Responsibility, Higgins hosted two receptions to advance U.S. relationships with partner nations Bosnia-Herzegovina and Turkey.
Higgins helps provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the sea and humanitarian/disaster response within U.S. 3rd Fleet's 50-million square mile area of responsibility in the Eastern Pacific, as well as supporting the nation's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.
For more news from USS Higgins visit www.navy.mil/local/ddg76.