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US Navy has christened future USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer

On April 24, 2021, the United States Navy has christened its newest Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, the future USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123), during a ceremony that was held in Pascagoula, Miss.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, launched U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123) in January 2020. (Picture source Ingalls Shipbuilding)

The ship will be the 73rd Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and is one of 20 ships currently under contract for the DDG 51 program. The ship is configured as a Flight IIA destroyer, which enables power projection and delivers quick reaction time, high firepower, and increased electronic countermeasures capability for anti-air warfare. Ingalls Shipbuilding was awarded the contract for Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee in June 2013 and began construction of the vessel in January 2017. The ship's keel was laid in a ceremony at the Ingalls shipyards on 14 November 2017.

The Navy began procuring Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class destroyers, also known as Aegis destroyers, in FY1985 (Fiscal Year), and a total of 87 have been procured through FY2021, including 2 in FY2021. From FY1989 through FY2005, DDG-51s were procured in annual quantities of two to five ships per year. Since FY2010, they have been procured in annual quantities of one to three ships per year. The first DDG-51 entered service in 1991. The DDG-51 design has been modified and updated periodically over the years.

The DDG-51 design has been modified and updated periodically over the years. The first 28 DDG-51s (i.e., DDGs 51 through 78) are called Flight I/II DDG-51s. In FY1994, the U.S. Navy shifted DDG-51 procurement to the Flight IIA DDG-51 design, which incorporated certain changes, including the addition of a helicopter hangar. A total of 47 Flight IIA DDG-51s (i.e., DDG-79 through DDG-124, plus DDG-127) 7 were procured through FY2016.

In FY2017, the Navy shifted DDG-51 procurement to the Flight III DDG-51 design, which incorporates a new and more capable radar called the SPY-6 radar or the Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR), as well as associated changes to the ship’s electrical power and cooling systems. DDGs 125 and higher, except for DDG-127 noted above, are to be Flight III DDG-51s.

The "Flight IIA Arleigh Burke" ships have several new features, beginning with USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79). Among the changes is the addition of two hangars for antisubmarine warfare (ASW) helicopters, and a new, longer 5-inch/62-caliber (127 mm) Mark 45 Mod 4 naval gun (installed onto USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81) and later ships). Later Flight IIA ships starting with USS Mustin (DDG-89) have a modified funnel design that buries the funnels within the superstructure as a signature-reduction measure. TACTAS towed array sonar was omitted from Flight IIA ships and they also lack Harpoon missile launchers

The future USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee will have a length of 509 feet (155 m) and a wide of 59 feet (18 m), with a displacement of 9,496 tons. It will be homeported in San Diego.  The ship will be powered by four General Electric LM2500-30 gas turbines driving 2 shafts. She will reach a top speed of 31 knots (57 km/h). 

The USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee will be armed with one 32 cells, 1 × 64 cells Mk 41 vertical launch systems, 96 × RIM-66 SM-2 surface-to-air missiles, BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles or RUM-139 VL-Asroc anti-submarine missiles, one 5 in (130 mm)/62 naval gun, 2 × 25 mm Mk 38 automatic cannons, four .50 cal (12.7 mm) heavy machine guns, two Mk 46 triple torpedo tubes and 20 mm Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon System). The ship will have a flight deck and an hangar able to accommodate up to two SH-60 Sea Hawk naval helicopters.