03 August 2019
Key West was the stage for the commissioning of the USS Billings Saturday.
KEY WEST, Fla. -- Key West was the stage for the commissioning of the USS Billings Saturday.
 
The vessel is the U.S. Navy’s  newest Littoral Combat Ship.
 
The ship accommodates some 70 officers and enlisted personnel, is 387 feet long, has a beam of nearly 58 feet and a speed of more than 40 knots.
 
U.S. Senator Jon Tester of Montana delivered the ceremony's principal address. His wife, Sharla Tester, served as ship’s sponsor. As part of a time-honored Navy tradition during the ceremony, Sharla Tester and families of crewmembers who attended gave the first order for officers and crewmembers to “man our ship and bring her to life!”
 
Billings is the first ship named in honor of Montana’s largest city. It is the 17th Littoral Combat Ship to enter the fleet and the eighth of the Freedom variant. Billings will be homeported at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida. 
Lockheed Martin/Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard built the 3,450-ton ship in Marinette, Wisconsin.
The Littoral Combat Class is a fast, agile, mission-focused platform designed to operate in near-shore environments, while capable of open-ocean tasking and winning against 21st-century coastal threats such as submarines, mines, and swarming small craft. Class ships are capable of supporting forward presence, maritime security, sea control and deterrence.
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