US Navy performs mast stepping ceremony for future USS Billings LCS

12 April 2019 (Last Updated April 12th, 2019 16:09)

The US Navy has performed the mast stepping ceremony for its Freedom-class littoral combat ship, the future USS Billings (LCS 15).

US Navy performs mast stepping ceremony for future USS Billings LCS
USS Billings (LCS-15) conducting trials on Lake Michigan in December 2018. Credit: US Navy photo courtesy of Marinette Marine/Released.

The US Navy has performed the mast stepping ceremony for its Freedom-class littoral combat ship, the future USS Billings (LCS 15).

The ceremony was attended by USS Billings commanding officer commander Michael Johnson and other officials.

Billings is named after the largest city in Montana and is expected to be commissioned in Key West, Florida in November this year.

Johnson said: “This mast stepping is one of many traditions we will follow and honour on our path to commissioning Billings, bringing her to fleet service.”

As part of the tradition of mast stepping, coins are placed beneath the mast as a symbol of good luck and fortune for the ship.

USS Billings executive officer commander Aaron Helgerson said: “Today’s ceremony centres around the placement of mementos into the base of our ship’s mast, an important and time-honoured practice aimed at laying the foundational character of our ship.

“This mast stepping is one of many traditions we will follow and honour on our path to commissioning Billings, bringing her to fleet service.”

“The items we are about to place in Billings’ mast will not only serve as a gesture to secure safe passage and blessings to her crew, but also celebrate her birth and lay the foundation of her character and heritage.”

Billings is the eighth Freedom-variant LCS built by Lockheed Martin along with its partners at Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin.

The vessel is expected to be delivered to the US Navy this year and will be homeported at Mayport, Florida.

In December, the ship completed sea trials in the waters of Lake Michigan.

Sponsored by Sharla Tester, LCS 15 is designed to support focused mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, and surface warfare missions. Billings will perform near-shore multi-purpose missions.

Billings will perform near-shore multi-purpose missions.