LCS Billings Commander Removed After Hitting Merchant Ship in Montreal

June 29, 2019 9:56 AM
Screen capture of a video showing Billings strike a moored cargo ship.

The commander of a Littoral Combat Ship that hit a moored ship in the St Lawrence River in Canada has been removed from command, USNI News has learned.

Cmdr. Michael Johnson was removed from command of the yet-to-be commissioned Billings (LCS-15) on Friday, a Surface Force Atlantic spokeswoman told USNI News on Saturday morning.

“Capt. Shawn Johnston, commander, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron Two (LCSRON 2), relieved PCU Billings (LCS 15) Blue Crew’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Michael Johnson, June 28, due to loss of confidence in his ability to command,” Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson told USNI News.
“The relief follows the recent allision in Montreal, Canada, which occurred on June 21.”

Former Billings commander Cmdr. Nate Rowan, now commander of the blue crew on USS Wichita (LCS-13), assumed command of the ship.

Billings was leaving its berth in Montreal, under the assistance of tugs, when the LCS struck the moored bulk carrier Rosaire Desgagnes.

Video from the scene shows that Billings was stemming a strong current, and the direction of her exhaust stream suggests that the wind would have tended to set her towards shore,” read a report in The Maritime Executive.

Billings is currently pier-side in Montreal as an investigation and damage assessment is ongoing.

Billings sustained minor damage above the waterline. While the ship is able to safely transit to its homeport, Naval Station Mayport, Fla., the ship will temporarily remain in port in Montreal to conduct a full damage assessment. No injuries were reported from either vessel. An investigation into the incident is ongoing,” a Navy spokesperson told USNI News earlier this week.

The Navy has released few other details on the incident. The video doesn’t show any lines from the tug attached to the ship and its unclear if a local pilot was in control of the ship when the allision Rosaire Desgagnes with occurred.

Last year, LCS USS Little Rock (LCS-9) was stranded for four months in Montreal after being trapped by an iced-over St. Lawrence after departing its commissioning ceremony in Buffalo, N.Y.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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