The commanding officer of the future littoral combat ship Billings was fired Friday after his vessel struck a moored bulk cargo ship in a Montreal port on June 21.

Cmdr. Michael Johnson was relieved as head of the warship’s blue crew “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command,” according to Naval Surface Force Atlantic spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson.

LCS Billings collided with the larger Canada-flagged bulk cargo vessel Rosaire A. Desgagnes that afternoon, causing minor damage above the water line to the U.S. warship, officials announced.

The warship was in Canada as part of a routine transit ahead of its August commissioning in Key West, Hillson said.

What caused the collision remains under investigation, but Hillson said last week the ongoing probe won’t delay the commissioning ceremony.

LCS Billings left Montreal on Monday morning on its way to Florida’s Naval Station Mayport, its future homeport.

Johnson assumed commanding officer duties for the warship’s blue crew in June 2018 and has been temporarily reassigned to the staff of Littoral Combat Ship Squadron 2, Hillson added.

Cmdr. Nate Rowan has assumed temporary duties as the commanding officer for Billings’ blue crew.

He previously helmed both LCS Wichita and LCS Billings, Hillson said.

Johnson’s relief was first reported by U.S. Naval Institute News.

Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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