BILLINGS, Mont. -- The USS Billings is the eighth Freedom Class Littoral Combat Ship to enter naval service.  The LCS class is designed to operate in waters close to shore.

Joe Depietro oversees the LCS program at Lockheed Martin and says the USS Billings is very fast and versatile, "It has a very shallow draft which means it can access waters where our bigger ships can't go in order to perform some pretty critical missions for the navy to include counter measures and anti-submarine warfare.  It also has the ability to integrate capability through mission packages so the ship is modular in its design and is able to plug and play different capabilities."

The ship can travel at about 45 knots making it one of the fastest combat ships in the fleet.  According to the Commissioning Committee, just two of the vessel's engines have more horsepower than 580 Harley Davidson motorcycles!

Lockheed Martin worked with an industry team of more than 12,500 suppliers in 42 different states.  Depietro says this made a tremendous positive impact on the U.S. economy.

"It represents the best of America as you look at the incorporation of many states ... you know the hands and hearts and the pride of the people that work on this in this country are key to the program and you see that transition as they watch that ship go into it's actual life cycle now under the hands of those sailors who are going to watch and protect 24/7... the freedoms of this country and Lockheed Martin is proud to build the USS Billings, see her get commissioned, and ultimately see her deployed and continue to defend our freedoms," says Depietro.

The USS Billings is expected to have a 25 to 30 year service life and can be deployed for about 18 months at a time.  The commissioning ceremony will be broadcasted live at 8 a.m. MT on KULR8.com.

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