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The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Billing (LCS 15) gets underway, June 30.

NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla.

The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Billings (LCS 15), is underway on its maiden deployment to the U.S. Fourth Fleet area of operations.

Billings will support counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean Sea. Billings will also conduct practical exercises and exchanges with partner nations, supporting U.S. 4th Fleet interoperability and reinforcing the U.S. position as the regional partner of choice.

The deployment of an LCS to the region aims to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to regional cooperation and security. The LCS’s shallow draft provides unparalleled opportunities for port access, making the ship an ideal vessel for these types of engagements.

Billings will be manned by approximately 100 Sailors, including the “Thundercats” of LCS 15 Gold Crew 119, a U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment, and the “Kraken” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, who will operate an embarked MH-60 helicopter.

“The ship and crew is ready to deploy and operate with other nations in the Fourth Fleet area of responsibility,” said Cmdr. Brian Forster, commanding officer of USS Billings (Gold Crew). There is no higher honor than to lead this crew of tough professionals during this mission set.”

An LCS is a fast, agile, and networked surface combatant, optimized for littoral zones. The primary missions for the LCS include countering threats from diesel submarines, littoral mines, and attacks by small surface craft to assure maritime access for joint forces.

“This deployment will be the longest I have been away from home but I am eager to finally get out to sea,” said Logistics Specialist Seaman Arabel Porraz. “We have been training and practicing for months and I am excited that we are finally able to leave port and do real world missions.”

LCS is a highly maneuverable, lethal and adaptable ship designed to support focused surface warfare, mine countermeasures, and anti-submarine warfare. LCS integrates new technology and capability to affordably support current and future mission capability from deep water to the littorals.

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