Special to the EagleHerald
The sun sets behind LCS-15, the USS Billings, on Aug. 2, the evening before its commissioning in Key West, Fla. 
Special to the EagleHerald

The sun sets behind LCS-15, the USS Billings, on Aug. 2, the evening before its commissioning in Key West, Fla. 

KEY WEST, Fla. — The U.S. Navy commissioned USS Billings (LCS-15) — the nation’s eighth Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) — in Key West, Fla., on Saturday. This milestone places the ship into active service. 

“Billings was designed to operate and adapt to a rapidly changing environment,” said Joe DePietro, vice president of Small Combatants and Ship Systems at Lockheed Martin, defense contract leader of the team which built LCS-15. “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.” 

LCSs are designed to complete close-to-shore missions and are a growing part of the Navy’s fleet. The new ship is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots, offers the most efficient staffing of any combat ship, and comes standard equipped with Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) and a Mark 110 gun, capable of firing 220 rounds per minute. Additionally, 40% of the hull is reconfigurable, integrating capabilities like the Longbow Hellfire Missiles, 30mm guns, and manned and unmanned vehicles. 

“Having now commanded two Freedom class LCS variants, I would like to report that these ships are truly impressive and will fit well in the niche they have been designed for,” said LCS-15’s Commanding Officer, Commander Nathan Rowan. “They are fast, maneuverable, and their weapon systems are some of the most accurate I’ve witnessed on any platform of which I’ve previously served.”

There are seven ships in various stages of production and test at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, where the Freedom-variant LCS is built. The next Freedom-variant in the class is LCS-17, the future USS Indianapolis, which was delivered to the Navy in late July.

“On behalf of the proud 2,000 men and women who transform flat steel into a fast, agile surface combatant, we are honored to support the U.S. Navy, and we congratulate the outstanding crew of the USS Billings,” said Jan Allman, CEO of Fincantieri Marinette Marine.