The littoral combat ship Billings has wrapped up its first deployment and is back at its homeport in Mayport, Florida, after conducting counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean Sea and providing humanitarian relief to Haiti following a massive earthquake.
The littoral combat ship and embarked Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, Detachment 5, kicked off the deployment on June 30 and arrived back in Mayport on Oct. 30.
Along with an embarked U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment, the Billings seized more than $111.8 million worth of cocaine and removed 13 suspected drug traffickers from the narcotics trade, the Navy said.
The Billings also pitched in to support Joint Task Force-Haiti after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the island nation Aug. 14. An MH-60S Sea Hawk assigned to the helicopter squadron joined in to help move personnel and aid during the relief efforts, and the littoral combat ship also served as a refueling base for other task force aircraft.
The ship also conducted a surface training exercise with the littoral combat ships Sioux City and Wichita. The occasion was the first time three Freedom-variant littoral combat ships deployed and operated together, the Navy said.
“The incredible work ethic, professionalism and resiliency of this team was crucial in conducting real world operations,” Cmdr. Brett Seeley, commanding officer of the Billings, said in a Navy news release. “Taking narcotics off the streets, easing suffering of the people of Haiti through [humanitarian assistance and disaster relief], and building partnerships in this part of the world has had tangible impacts, and sets the stage for those who sail after us. I could not have asked for a better maiden deployment for our mighty warship and the Thundercat crew!”
The Billings was commissioned in 2019.