USS Higgins sailors leave on deployment

SAN DIEGO — The guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins left its San Diego home port Monday for a regularly scheduled deployment to the Middle East.

The Higgins and its crew of almost 330 sailors will perform a variety of missions, such as ballistic missile defense, over the next seven months or so, according to the Navy. The crew just completed what the Navy called a “rigorous maintenance phase and training cycle.”

The deployment comes at a rough time for families, just three days before Thanksgiving and a little over one month before Christmas.

The Higgins is named for Marine Col. William “Rich” Higgins, a military observer in Lebanon who was kidnapped in 1988 by a pro-Iranian group and later killed. His widow, retired Marine Lt. Col. Robin Higgins, is the ship’s sponsor.

The vessel returned from its last deployment, also to the Middle East, in February 2016.