The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Navy:
(MARINETTE, Wis.) — The U.S. Navy held a keel laying ceremony for the future USS Billings (LCS 15) at the Marinette Marine Corp. shipyard on Nov. 2.
Sharla Tester, Billings' sponsor and wife of Sen. Jon Tester, authenticated the ship's keel. As the ship's sponsor, Tester serves as an advocate and honorary member of the crew.
"Much like her namesake city, the future USS Billings stands as a testament to the spirit of the American pioneers. She will be a pillar of strength in an uncertain world," said Capt. Tom Anderson, LCS program manager. "Once complete, this highly versatile warship will deploy cutting-edge mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare systems around the globe."
The littoral combat ship class consists of the Freedom variant and Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin (for the odd-numbered hulls). LCS 15 is the eighth Freedom variant and will be approximately 388 feet in length and have a width of nearly 58 feet.
The Independence-variant team is led by Austal USA (for LCS 6 and follow-on even-numbered hulls).
Both variants are being purchased under an innovative block-buy acquisition strategy. There are currently 12 LCSs under construction.
LCS is a modular, reconfigurable ship with three types of mission packages including surface warfare, mine countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare. The Program Executive Office Littoral Combat Ships is responsible for delivering and sustaining littoral mission capabilities to the fleet. Delivering high-quality warfighting assets while balancing affordability and capability is key to supporting the nation's maritime strategy.