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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 alliance between the U.S. and Philippines.
"We were incredibly fortunate to have a port visit in Manila,” said Cmdr. Joseph McGettigan, Higgins commanding officer. “Our quick stop provided great opportunities for rest and relaxation during our patrol, as well as a chance for maintenance and repair. The visit also held special importance for many of our crew members who have family in the Philippines, as they were able to spend time visiting their relatives. Finally, we were able to get together with our Canadian counterparts onboard HMCS Vancouver, who we have been sailing with for a few weeks. We greatly appreciate the hospitality of the people of Manila and hope we can come back soon."
During the port visit, Sailors were able to explore the surrounding areas through tours sponsored by the ship’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR), as well as connect with the people of the Philippines through a community relations (COMREL) event with “Lil Bravehearts,” an organization devoted to caring for and supporting the families of children with Down syndrome.
"I am very proud to have participated in an event that increases the well-being of children and fosters a healthy relationship between the U.S. and our allies,” said Operations Specialist 1st Class Christopher Roberts, from Birmingham, Alabama. “Being able to play with the kids, learn their stories and see their resilience was a real inspiration to me."
Sonar Technician (Surface) 1st Class David Dodson, from Jacksonville, Florida, was one of the Sailors who was able to spend the duration of the port visit with relatives, some of whom he had never met before.
“My grandmother, her sisters, two uncles and two cousins all came down from Tarlac to Manila while we were in port,” said Dodson. “Except for my grandmother, it was my first time meeting everyone. They showed me around all the local markets and made sure I had sisig at every meal, which is my all-time favorite dish. I had such a great time and I’m beyond grateful for being able to spend time with my family.”
Higgins departed the Philippines to continue operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
Higgins is assigned to Commander, 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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