It’s a real honor that the Keys were chosen for the commissioning of the USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee

It truly is a momentous occasion for Key West this Saturday when the USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee will be commissioned.

Marty Jenkins of the Navy League joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about the commissioning.

This whole week will see celebrations for the commission.

Jenkins said, “We’ve been waiting for so long to have this ship commissioned and now she’s here in Key West. It is a great time.”

The crew has been getting the ship ready to leave the shipyard for the past few months.

Jenkins said, “The commanding officer said I really want to use Key West as a liberty port. The Navy League has been working with the ship to schedule events for the crew and groups and individuals.”

A concert will be held tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. at the Amphitheater and it will give the public the chance to meet the crew and see the ship. It’s a $10 entry fee, but will be free with military ID.

The show will include Cliff Cody, Kristen McNamara and headliner Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band.

On Thursday, a party at Irish Kevin’s will be held and a number of individual events are scheduled.

Jenkins said, “All the businesses kind of jumped in. For Friday we’re kind of leaving the crew alone so they can get ready for all the events of the next day. While they’re prepping for that, we at the Navy League will be welcoming in some of the VIPs who are coming in for the commissioning itself.”

And Saturday will be the day. The USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee will officially be on the active duty roles of the US Navy warships.

The Higbee will remain in port in Key West until Monday when she will head to the Panama Canal and then to her home port in San Diego.

There have been two other commissions in Key West.

Jenkins said, “We tend to think of the christening where they break the bottle over the bough, that’s really about the ship builder, the ship yard. The commissioning is about the crew. They bring the ship alive. You kind of think of a ship as this big weapons system. It’s a bunch of electronics and steel. It becomes a ship when you get the crew involved. They are the heart and soul of the platform.”

The ship is a guided missile destroyer.

Jenkins said, “I’ve spent a lot of time on the ship the last few days. Very, very professional crew. Very tight crew. It’s a joy to be around them. She is designed to perform really at the top of the fleet in all of the mission areas. That’s anti-submarine, anti-air, anti-surface, anti-ballistic missile and land defense. Also long-range gunfire and a slew of electronic warfare systems.”

It’s a state-of-the-art ship and should not be missed while it’s in port in Key West. The crew voted to hold the commissioning in Key West.

Jenkins said, “The vote was 9-1 in favor of being here. So if you’re out in town and you see the sailors, talk to them. Introduce yourself. Welcome them to Key West. They’re happy to be here and we’re delighted to have them.”

For more information on the ship and the events, click here: