BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – An American guided-missile destroyer, the USS Higgins, is making a port of call to Brunei this week as part of continued US-Brunei defence diplomacy.

The Higgins is a Flight II destroyer with ballistic missile capabilities, and is part of the US Navy’s largest forward-deployed destroyer squadron, known as DESRON 15.

Commander Joseph McGettigan said the naval vessel is making a rest stop in Brunei after a months-long deployment from its base in Yokosuka, Japan.

“We’ve been out for several months since May, and we’ve been all over — both out in the Philippines Sea and the South China Sea — operating with different countries.”

“The US Navy drives around and operates in the South China Sea in order to protect freedom of navigation and freedom of shipping and security throughout the world,” he added.

Commander Joseph McGettigan (R) is seen giving a tour of the USS Higgins to US Ambassador to Brunei Caryn McClelland (2L) and UK High Commissioner John Virgoe (2R). Photo: Ain Bandial/The Scoop

This is the third US Navy ship to visit the sultanate this year, after the USS Jackson and USS Charleston made brief stops in the country in January and July respectively.

US Ambassador Caryn McClelland said the two countries continued to build on defence engagement through ship visits and exercises such as SEACAT and CARAT.

“We are proud of our exemplary cooperation based on mutual desire for peace, security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region,” she said.