U.S. Navy Commander David N. Taft, originally from Harpswell, took command of the Bath-built USS Higgins last month. Credit: Courtesy of the U.S. Navy

A Harpswell native and Mt. Ararat High School graduate was named commander of the Bath-built Arleigh Burke destroyer USS Higgins last month.

In January, U.S. Navy Cmdr. David N. Taft took command of the USS Higgins, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer built at Bath Iron Works. The San Diego-based ship returned from a seven-month deployment in June.

Taft graduated from Mt. Ararat High School, where he played soccer.

He graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in 1999, and was commissioned an ensign in 2000, according to the Navy.

He completed his joint professional military education at the Naval War College while earning a Master of Arts in diplomacy from Norwich University in 2007.

In 2014, he attended Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center Integrated Air and Missile Defense Detachment as program manager for the IAMD Warfare Tactics Instructor school, following completion of the 19-week course and graduating as the top tactician in March 2015.

Taft has served in the Navy for 19 years, he told KUSI in San Diego in an interview that aired Saturday.

Taft spoke of the Higgins taking part in an April 2018 operation in the northern Arabian Gulf during which the ship launched 23 Tomahawk missiles into Syria in retaliation for the Syrian government using chemical weapons against its own people in Douma.

“The crew came together at a really amazing moment of teamwork. All the training we put together, maximizing our culture of excellence, and really focusing on the mission, executing it flawlessly,” he said. “That was really the highlight of an amazing deployment where we did a lot of incredible things over the seven months.”

Higgins is a two-time recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal, has four times received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal three times.

The USS Higgins was built at Bath Iron Works, launched in 1997 and commissioned in April 1999.