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The port visit highlighted the strong U.S. commitment to the region built on shared values and principles and helped strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and Brunei.
“Our main purpose in the Indo-Pacific theater is to promote and ensure peace and stability for all nations who reside or operate in this region,” said Cmdr. Joseph McGettigan, USS Higgins commanding officer. “Brunei does both and we want the leadership and people of this beautiful country to know that we support them. I think this port visit really reinforces our commitment to the region and helps build upon our already strong partnership with Brunei.”
The U.S. Navy has operated in the Indo-Pacific region helping maintain peace for more than 70 years. This port call demonstrates the U.S. continued cooperation with partner countries and their strong support for the region, including institutions such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as a cornerstone of the United States Indo-Pacific Strategy.
While in port, Higgin’s leadership met with Ambassador of the United States of America to Brunei Caryn R. McClelland, Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States of America to Brunei Emily Fleckner, High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to Brunei John Virgoe, High Commissioner of Singapore to Brunei Heng Aik Yeow, and Deputy Chief of Mission of Japan to Brunei Suda Atsushi.
Those in attendance received a tour of the ship to include the flight deck, missile decks, and fo’c’sle, as well as several spaces on the interior of the ship.
“It was an honor to welcome Ambassador McClelland and her guests aboard Higgins,” said McGettigan. “I’m thankful to have had the chance to show off one of the finest vessels in the fleet as well as one of the greatest crews the Navy has to offer.”
The five-day port visit gave Sailors aboard Higgins a chance to experience Brunei’s vibrant culture and interact with its amazing people. The ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department organized several tours providing crew members with a variety of activities to participate in while in country.
“Brunei had so much to offer and we wanted to make sure our Sailors had the opportunity to take in as much as possible,” said Senior Chief Machinist Mate Kenson Jacques, the ships MWR Manager. “There’s this bustling city atmosphere full of mosques, museums and markets, and it’s all contrasted by this lush rain forest and its unique and colorful wildlife.
The tours we put together ensured everyone was able to get the most out of their time while we were there and I really think everybody had a good time and made some great memories.”
Port calls are part of the Navy’s routine operations. Not only do they reflect the mutual interest between the U.S and its partner nations, they allow Sailors an opportunity to decompress from the high demand of life at sea, contributing to the overall mission readiness of the ship.
“When we finally get a chance to pull in somewhere, especially somewhere like Brunei that most of us have never been to, it’s exciting and it’s usually a much-needed break,” said Electronics Technician 1st Class Liam Bezenah, from Troy, Michigan. “We go weeks at a time out at sea working long hours. Port visits give us a little time away from all of that. We get to relax and take our minds off ship life while we’re out trying the local food, or sightseeing, or maybe just laying on a beach. When we get back underway we feel refreshed. We’re able to refocus and do the job we’re out here to do.”
Higgins departed Brunei July 26 to continue operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
Higgins is assigned to Task Force 71/Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th fleet’s principal surface force.
U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest forward-deployed fleet in the world, and with the help of a network of alliances and partners from 35 other maritime-nations, the U.S. Navy has operated in the Indo-Pacific region for more than 70 years, providing credible, ready forces to help preserve peace and prevent conflict.
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