Freedom-variant LCS ship USS Billings enters active service

7 August 2019 (Last Updated August 7th, 2019 09:39)

The US Navy has commissioned its newest littoral combat ship (LCS), USS Billings (LCS 15), during a ceremony in Key West, Florida.

Freedom-variant LCS ship USS Billings enters active service
The crew of USS Billings (LCS 15) brings the ship to life during its commissioning ceremony. Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Marianne Guemo.

The US Navy has commissioned its newest littoral combat ship (LCS), USS Billings (LCS 15), during a ceremony in Key West, Florida.

Named after the largest city in Montana, USS Billings is the 17th LCS to enter the Navy’s fleet and the eighth Freedom-variant LCS vessel.

Built by the Lockheed Martin-led team, the automated ship can cruise at speeds in excess of 40k.

The ship has a crew of approximately 70 sailors and is capable of performing close-to-shore missions.

US Southern Command commander Admiral Craig Faller said: “A warship and its crew is better when they are ambassadors, better when they put a handout, a hand of friendship, a hand of comfort, reassurance, but make no mistake, they can bring it.

“They’ve got power, and they can fight. Billings is fast. It’s lethal. It can fight, and so can its crew.”

Billings commanding officer commander Nathan Rowan stated that the ship will serve as a mine counter-measures platform.

Rowan said: “We have already begun developing missions and protocols that future ships will conduct and adhere to.”

Billings is sponsored by Sharla Tester, the spouse of Montana US Senator Jon Tester.

The vessel, which will be homeported in Naval Station Mayport, Florida, comes armed with Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) and a Mark 110 gun, capable of firing 220 rounds per minute.

Lockheed Martin Small Combatants and Ship Systems vice-president Joe DePietro said: “Billings was designed to operate and adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

“She is equipped and ready for today’s threats and easily modifiable to meet the threats we may not even be aware of yet. Our team is confident Billings will be what the Navy needs when the fleet needs it.”

The industry team delivered the future USS Indianapolis (LCS 17) to the Navy last month. The LCS will be commissioned on 26 October in Burns Harbor, Indiana.