USS Higgins (DDG 76) transits San Diego Bay while departing for deployment, Nov. 20. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Trevor Welsh)

SAN DIEGO - The guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) departed San Diego for a regularly scheduled independent deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet and 5th Fleet areas of operation, Nov. 20.

Higgins has a crew of nearly 330 Sailors, officers and enlisted, and is a multi-mission ship designed to operate independently or with an associated strike group.

The deployment follows a rigorous maintenance phase and training cycle, wherein Higgins proved itself operationally capable of carrying out its mission as a deployed ballistic missile defense (BMD) asset.

"My team of warriors demonstrated they are smart and brave during the challenging work up cycle, and are eager to stand the watch over the horizon,” said Commander Victor Garza, commanding cfficer of Higgins.

BMD capable guided-missile destroyers provide a great flexibility to combatant commanders and are able to carry out assigned BMD missions while still being ready to respond to other operational tasking such as maritime interdiction operations, air defense, and multinational exercises.

Higgins is homeported in San Diego and is part of Naval Surface Forces and U.S. 3rd Fleet. U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy. Third Fleet constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions based on their complementary strengths to promote peace, security, and stability throughout the entire Pacific theater of operations.