Shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) laid the keel for the US Navy’s future Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123) in a ceremony in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on November 14.
The ship’s keel was authenticated by the ship’s sponsors, Louisa Dixon, Virginia Munford, and Rolanda Pickett Wilson. The authenticators etched their initials into the keel plate to symbolically recognize the joining of modular components and the ceremonial beginning of the ship.
The ship’s namesake, Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, served as the second Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps in 1911 and received the Navy Cross for distinguished service in the line of her profession and devotion to duty. When she entered naval service in 1908, she was one of the first 20 women to join the newly established Navy Nurse Corps and contributed her nursing skills to the Navy during the First World War.
DDG 123 will be configured as a Flight IIA destroyer. The ship will also incorporate Cooperative Engagement Capability that, when combined with the Aegis combat system, will permit groups of ships and aircraft to link their radars to provide a composite picture of the battle space, effectively increasing the theater space.
“The keel laying is the first major event in a shipbuilding program and the keel is known as the backbone of the ship,” said Capt. Casey Moton, DDG 51 class program manager, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. “With the keel in place, the ship will begin to take shape and I look forward to seeing that happen over the next several months.”
HII’s Pascagoula shipyard is also currently in production on the future destroyers Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) , Paul Ignatius (DDG 117), Delbert D. Black (DDG 119) , and Frank E. Petersen, Jr (DDG 121). Additionally, HII is under contract for the future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125) which will be the first Flight III ship.