The U.S. Navy commissioned its newest Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the USS Billings (LCS-15), during a 10 a.m. ceremony Saturday, August 3, in Key West, Florida.
U.S. Senator Jon Tester, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, delivered the commissioning ceremony’s principal address. Tester’s wife, Sharla, is the ship’s sponsor. The ceremony was highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when Mrs. Tester gave the first order to «man our ship and bring her to life»»!
«The future USS Billings and her crew will play an important role in the defense of our nation and maritime freedom», said Secretary of the U.S. Navy Richard V. Spencer. «She stands as proof of what teamwork – from civilian to contractor to military – can accomplish. This fast, agile platform will deliver her motto, ‘Big Sky Over Troubled Waters,’ worldwide thanks to their efforts».
The ship is named in honor of Billings, the largest city in Montana, as well as the people and military veterans of the state. The USS Billings (LCS-15) is the first ship of its name in naval service.
Montana has a rich history and proud heritage of naval service, with thirty ships named over the years in honor of places and people, including the currently serving Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Helena (SSN-725) and the under-construction Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS Montana (SSN-794). Montana also has one of the highest per capita veteran populations, according to the Veterans Administration.
The USS Billings (LCS-15) is a fast, agile, focused-mission platform designed for operation in near-shore environments yet capable of open-ocean operation. It is designed to defeat asymmetric «anti-access» threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft. The ship will be homeported in Mayport, Florida.
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, Marinette, Wisconsin (for the odd-numbered hulls). The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA, Mobile, Alabama, (for LCS-6 and the subsequent even-numbered hulls).
Ship Design Specifications
|Hull||Advanced semiplaning steel monohull|
|Length Overall||389 feet/118.6 m|
|Beam Overall||57 feet/17.5 m|
|Draft||13.5 feet/4.1 m|
|Full Load Displacement||Approximately 3,200 metric tons|
|Top Speed||Greater than 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h|
|Range at top speed||1,000 NM/1,151 miles/1,852 km|
|Range at cruise speed||4,000 NM/4,603 miles/7,408 km|
|Watercraft Launch and Recovery||Up to Sea State 4|
|Aircraft Launch and Recovery||Up to Sea State 5|
|Propulsion||Combined diesel and gas turbine with steerable water jet propulsion|
|Power||85 MW/113,600 horsepower|
|Hangar Space||Two MH-60 Romeo Helicopters|
|One MH-60 Romeo Helicopter and three Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (VTUAVs)|
|Core Crew||Less than 50|
|Accommodations for 75 sailors provide higher sailor quality of life than current fleet|
|Integrated Bridge System||Fully digital nautical charts are interfaced to ship sensors to support safe ship operation|
|Core Self-Defense Suite||Includes 3D air search radar|
|Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) gunfire control system|
|Rolling-Airframe Missile Launching System|
|57-mm Main Gun|
|Mine, Torpedo Detection|
|Decoy Launching System|
|USS Freedom (LCS-1)||06-02-2005||09-23-2006||11-08-2008||San Diego, California|
|USS Fort Worth (LCS-3)||07-11-2009||12-07-2010||09-22-2012||San Diego, California|
|USS Milwaukee (LCS-5)||10-27-2011||12-18-2013||11-21-2015||San Diego, California|
|USS Detroit (LCS-7)||08-11-2012||10-18-2014||10-22-2016||San Diego, California|
|USS Little Rock (LCS-9)||06-27-2013||07-18-2015||12-16-2017||San Diego, California|
|USS Sioux City (LCS-11)||02-19-2014||01-30-2016||11-17-2018||Mayport, Florida|
|USS Wichita (LCS-13)||02-09-2015||09-17-2016||01-12-2019||Mayport, Florida|
|USS Billings (LCS-15)||11-02-2015||07-01-2017||08-03-2019||Mayport, Florida|
|USS Indianapolis (LCS-17)||07-18-2016||04-18-2018||Mayport, Florida|
|USS St. Louis (LCS-19)||05-17-2017||12-15-2018|
|USS Minneapolis/St. Paul (LCS-21)||02-22-2018|
|USS Cooperstown (LCS-23)||08-14-2018|
|USS Marinette (LCS-25)||03-27-2019|
|USS Nantucket (LCS-27)|
|USS Beloit (LCS-29)|
|USS Cleveland (LCS-31)|