USS Higgins (DDG 76) returns to her homeport of San Diego Oct. 7 following the completion of a deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rosalie Garcia)

SAN DIEGO - The guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) returned to her homeport of San Diego Oct. 7 following the completion of a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation.

While deployed, the ship and her crew of more than 250 Sailors conducted operations with the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Carrier Strike Group and took part in a number of exercises, theater security cooperation events and maritime presence operations with partner nations.

"I am continually grateful for the effort my crew displayed this deployment. The dedication and professionalism they put forth daily reaffirms their commitment to their country and the naval service," said Cmdr. Nicole L. M. Shue, Higgins' commanding officer. "They have worked incredibly hard, and we are looking forward to reuniting with our loved ones back here in San Diego."

During the deployment, the ship made port visits to Palau, Singapore, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Japan, Guam and Pearl Harbor.

During a port visit to Nagoya, Japan, Higgins' Sailors helped clean the grounds and interact with children at a local orphanage. While in Thailand, several Sailors also volunteered their time to help rebuild a school that had been damaged by a tropical storm.

Additionally, three separate groups of midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy and other universities from around the nation also joined the Higgins' crew at various times during the deployment as part of their summer training program.

Commissioned in 1999, the ship is named in honor of U.S. Marine Corps Col. William R. Higgins who disappeared Feb. 17, 1988, while serving as Chief, Observer Group Lebanon and Senior Military Observer, United States Military Observer Group, United Nations Truce Supervision Organization as part of U.N. peacekeeping mission. His remains were eventually recovered and his body was interred at Quantico National Cemetery Dec. 30, 1991.