Steamboat Springs Navy Cmdr. Nicole Shue and her guided missile destroyer USS Higgins with its 250 sailors are back in their home port of San Diego for several more months after completing a nine-month deployment to the Middle East and Southeast Asia in October 2013.
Shue grew up in Yampa and is a 1991 graduate of Steamboat Springs High School.
The ship and its crew were part of the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group while deployed and took part in a number of exercises including maritime presence operations with partner nations.
"I am continually grateful for the effort my crew displayed during deployment and after our return to San Diego," Shue was quoted saying in a news release from the Navy. "The dedication and professionalism they put forth daily reaffirms their commitment to their country and the naval service."
She was in Steamboat Springs in August 2011 for her 20th high school reunion.
Shue graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science in environmental science and oceanography. She also holds a master's degree in global leadership from the University of San Diego and is a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College.
The USS Higgins is 505 feet long and 59 feet wide and weighs nearly 8,700 tons. Twin gas turbine engines propel the ship through the water at more than 30 mph. Its weapons systems include MK46 torpedoes, both Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles and a pair of Phalanx CIWS (close in weapons systems) 20m rapid fire guns, among others, according to the Navy.
Shue said commanding a ship is something she never expected to be doing.
"I have gained a deeper sense of commitment and responsibility," she said. "This is especially true being in command because I am wholly responsible for everyone on the ship."
She added that she has experienced personal and professional growth through the various experiences encountered on her various deployments.
"I love being in the Navy," Shue said. "There are good days and bad days. You have to look at what you do across the breadth of experiences. In the Navy, more so than anywhere else, it's the people you meet and the lasting friendships that you have. These are things that you get from service in the military — and it is what makes people love to serve."
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