The US Navy recently welcomed the latest Arleigh Burke-class destroyer into its active fleet, the USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123), with her commissioning ceremony held at Naval Air Station Key West’s Truman Harbor, Florida.

Several US officials attended the ceremony last Saturday, including Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday, among many others. The ship’s sponsors—Louisa Dixon, Virginia Munford, and R. Pickett Wilson—also witnessed its commissioning and were among those who paid tribute to its namesake.

USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123) is the 72nd Arleigh Burke-class missile-guided destroyer under the Flight IIA classification, which features an improved version of the ship’s class and tons of new advanced technologies. In addition, it carries the namesake of the Navy’s first female recipient of the Navy Cross.

Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee, born in Canada on May 18, 1874, served as the second Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps in 1911. After completing her extensive nursing training, she entered the then-newly established US Navy Nurse Corps in 1908 and became one of the first twenty members—widely known as “The Sacred Twenty.”

Higbee dedicated her nursing skills to the service, gradually climbing the ranks from Chief Nurse in 1909 to Second Superintendent in 1911. Her conspicuous devotion and efforts in leading the Corps during World War I and during the Spanish Influenza epidemic did not come in vain, as she eventually received the Navy Cross in 1920.

She retired from service two years later and lived a private life until her passing in 1941. Higbee was buried in Arlington National Cemetery next to her husband, Lieutenant Colonel John Henley Higbee, who previously served in the Marine Corps years before his death in 1908.

USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123) prepares for commissioning at Naval Air Station Key West’s Truman Harbor, Florida. (Image source: DVIDS)

Speaking at the ceremony, Del Toro highlighted the groundbreaking achievements of Higbee as one of the trailblazers of the Navy Nurse Corps and the exemplary leadership role she demonstrated that eventually granted her the second-highest military decoration.

I am confident that the crew who will sail USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee will continue to honor and embody her trailblazing legacy,” Del Toro said, expressing his confidence toward the future crew of the newest Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.