Capt. Kyle Higgins

Capt. Kyle Higgins, commanding officer of the USS Dwight Eisenhower said currently the U.S. Navy is second to none at Rotary, but both Russia and China are expanding operations on then seas.

With a crew capacity equal to that of the population of Abilene, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is a floating city.

The food on board cost $3 million.

Parts to maintain the ship total $80 million.

There’s a shoe store and Starbucks aboard, both stores Abilene does not have.

Crewmembers of the Eisenhower visited Abilene last weekend to help celebrate the birthday of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Lt. Blake Harpel received the General Eisenhower Leadership Award and Psc James Long the Presidential Eisenhower Leadership Award presented by the Eisenhower Foundation.

Speaking at Rotary, Capt. Kyle Higgins, commanding officer of the USS Eisenhower said ships take on the characteristics of the person they are named after.

“We live every moment of every day trying to emulate Dwight D. Eisenhower both as a general, a man and a president,” Higgins said. “I can see what kind of attitude it is based on: the town of Abilene.”

Navy fleet

He said about a third of the 283 Navy ships are deployed at sea.

“A little over 90 ships are at sea. This is a constant rotation of one third are always out, one third are back getting ready to go out and one third are in maintenance,” he said.

Currently the Eisenhower is in maintenance getting state of the art upgrades.

The USS Eisenhower will be the first ship that has the capabilities of both launching and landing unmanned aircraft. The MQ-25 Stingray will be used to refuel F-35 Stealth Jets.

Higgins said the U.S. is the only country that has nuclear powered aircraft carriers like the USS Eisenhower.

He said the last sea battle was the Battle of Leyte Gulf in World War II.

“That was the last time we had two navies go head to head and sinking significant tonnage on both sides and putting them at the bottom of the ocean,” he said.

Since 1944 there has not been a major naval engagement at sea, he said.

He said for 75 years the United States Navy has dominated the world’s oceans.

However, Higgins said, there has a reemergence of Russia and China.

“They are trying to dominate the sea just as much,” he said. “China is using military modernization, flexing economic muscle all over the world to coerce neighboring countries to renegotiate, reorder, so they can have dominance in the Pacific region.”

He said China is expected to spend trillions of dollars to develop projects,” he said.

“I think China is probably more global but Russia is very active,” he said. “If you look at what they have done in the North Sea, they deployed their own carrier to the Mediterranean. Their (Russia) Black Sea Fleet has become very active. They come down through the Dardanellis and into the Mediterranean. So the Russians are fairly regional.

“The Chineese, when you start looking at the ‘One Belt/One Road’ concept that they have, they have become much more global. Mostly economically but they have pushed their navy across the Pacific into South America and Central America,” he said.

He said most likely the USS Eisenhower will encounter both Russian and Chinese navel units when it deploys.

Higgins said that a week ago the USS Decatur was shadowed by a Chinese destroyer and almost collided with it.

Man-made island

“China was unhappy that this destroyer was navigating in open ocean,” he said.

He said China had constructed a man-made island but it was determined by the International Criminal Court that it was not a legal territory.

China claimed the U.S. ship had to stay outside the international boundary of this island.

“And we, a tend of the United States Navy, decided to push back,” Higgins said. “That’s what we do in the United States Navy. We challenge unrealistic claims.”

He said the U.S. Navy celebrated its 243rd birthday last Saturday.

“The Navy’s mission has endured since the beginning of the country,” he said. “A little over 200 years ago during the Revolutionary War, we set up a Navy and ended up fighting off the British.”

Navy

He said the original Navy was merchant-centered.

“Our merchant ships were commandeered, we put cannons on them, and we defended ourselves. We captured a few ships along the way and the French helped us out,” he said.

Higgins said the Navy was formed to protect the United States’ economic interests.

He said the U.S. Navy today is second to none.

“But it didn’t get there and it can’t stay there without a lot of attention from our country,” he said.

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