During a ceremony June 14, 2016, to honor women who served in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer, DDG 123, will be named Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee.
Higbee, the future ship’s namesake, was a pioneering United States Navy chief nurse, who served as the Superintendent of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps during World War I and was the first female recipient of the Navy Cross.
“It is a great honor to name this ship in recognition of Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee,” said Mabus. “I have no doubt that all who serve aboard her will carry on the legacy of service and commitment exemplified by this pioneer of U.S. Navy Nurse Corps.”
The former USS Higbee (DD-806), commissioned in 1945, was the first ship named in her honor and the first U.S. Navy combat ship to bear the name of a female member of the Naval service.
Mabus honored the service and sacrifice of women who served in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps during a sunset parade on United States Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial grounds.
“This ship will be a part of our fleet for decades, and the legacy of Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee and her service to our nation will live on for decades through the ship’s voyages across the oceans, and through the lives of the crew who will sail aboard it,” said Mabus.
“Higbee’s professionalism, leadership and selfless dedication to her nurses and patients reflect the highest standards of naval service,” said Dr. Regina T. Akers, naval historian. “She and her nurses provided the best treatment possible often under some of the worse conditions. Higbee will continue to inspire all who learn of her courage, honor and commitment.”
Arleigh-Burke class destroyers conduct a variety of operations from peacetime presence and crisis response to sea control and power projection. DDG 123 will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and will contain a combination of offensive and defensive weapon systems designed to support maritime warfare, including integrated air and missile defense and vertical launch capabilities.
The ship will be constructed at Ingalls Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, in Mississippi and is expected to enter the Navy fleet in 2024. The ship will be 509-feet-long, have a beam length of 59 feet and be capable of operating at speeds in excess of 30 knots.