The U.S. Navy’s newest littoral combat ship, future USS Billings (LCS 15), arrived at Naval Air Station Key West’s Truman Harbor in preparation for her commissioning ceremony Aug. 3.
Billings is the 17th littoral combat ship to enter the fleet and the eighth of the Freedom variant. It is the first ship named for Billings, the largest city in the U.S. state of Montana.
Naval Air Station Key West is the state-of-the-art facility for combat fighter aircraft of all military services, provides world-class pierside support to U.S. and foreign naval vessels, and is the premier training center for surface and subsurface military operations.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Sharla Tester, the wife of Montana Sen. Jon Tester, the ranking member of the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee, will serve as the ship’s sponsor. The ceremony will be highlighted by Mrs. Tester breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow to formally christen the ship, a time-honored Navy tradition.
“The christening of the future USS Billings brings this great warship one step closer to joining the fleet, where it will, for decades to come, serve as a tribute to the great people of Billings and the state of Montana, as well as the highly skilled men and women who built our nation’s newest littoral combat ship,” said the Honorable Sean Stackley, acting Secretary of the Navy.
The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom variant and the Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin (for the odd-numbered hulls, e.g. LCS 1). The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA (for LCS 6 and the subsequent even-numbered hulls).
Each LCS is outfitted with a single mission package made up of mission modules containing warfighting systems and support equipment. A dedicated ship crew will combine with aviation assets to deploy manned and unmanned vehicles and sensors in support of mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare or surface warfare missions.