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USS Billings has new commanding officer after hitting Canadian cargo vessel

The littoral combat ship USS Billings (LCS 15) during its acceptance trials on Lake Michigan, Dec. 6, 2018. Billings is the 17th littoral combat ship, an adaptable platform designed to support focused mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare missions. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin/Released)

After hitting a Canadian cargo vessel in waters around Montreal in late June, the USS Billings has a new commanding officer, according to the U.S. Navy.

Cmdr. Michael Johnson was relieved by Capt. Shawn Johnston “due to loss of confidence in his ability to command,” according to a statement from Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson, a public affairs officer for the Naval Surface Force Atlantic.

The move to relieve Johnson was made on June 28. Johnson had been commanding officer of the USS Billings since June 2018. He has been temporarily assigned to the staff of Littoral Combat Ship Squadron Two.

“The relief follows the recent allision in Montreal, Canada, which occurred on June 21,” according to Hillson.

“Allision” is a nautical term for when a ship runs up on a stationary ship. The USS Billings had been under the assistance of tug boats at the time of the allision, Hillson said in a previous statement.

No one was injured and Hillson described damage to the USS Billings as minor and located above the waterline.

A former commander of the USS Billings, Cmdr. Nate Rowan, has temporarily taken over as the USS Billings’ commanding officer. Rowan is currently the commanding officer of the USS Wichita. Like the USS Billings, the USS Wichita is a littoral combat ship.

The USS Billings is named after the city of Billings and was christened by Sharla Tester, the wife of U.S. Sen. Jon Tester.

The USS Billings is still scheduled to be commissioned in Key West, Florida, in August.

The Billings City Council has so far donated $30,000 to the commissioning ceremony as of May 2019. That donation goes toward the goals of between $150,000 and $300,000 for the event set by the commissioning committee. Billings Mayor Bill Cole is the chairman of the commissioning committee.


© 2019 the Billings Gazette (Billings, Mont.)

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