The secretary of the Navy announced Thursday that Billings will be one of five U.S. cities to have new ships or vessels named after them.
Secretary Ray Mabus called Mayor Tom Hanel to break the news, then issued a statement later in the day.
The USS Billings will be a littoral combat ship or LCS, "littoral" referring to coastal or intertidal waters.
"A fast, agile surface combatant, the LCS provides the required war fighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute focused missions close to the shore such as mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare," the release from Mabus' office said.
The ship will be the first to bear the city's name, the release said, and it will be constructed by Lockheed Martin and Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wis. The ship will be 378 feet long, have a beam of 57.4 feet and travel at speeds in excess of 40 knots.
Another LCS will be named after Tulsa, Okla., and three joint high-speed transport vessels, designated by USNS rather than USS, will be named after Bismarck, N.D.; Yuma, Ariz.; and Burlington, Vt.
"It is my privilege as secretary of the Navy to name these ships after five great American cities," Mabus said. "Several cities will be represented for the first time in the Navy fleet, establishing a new connection and tradition that forms a bond between a city's residents and the sailors and Marines who serve in its namesake ship. For decades to come, these ships will sail in the fleet, building partnerships and projecting power around the world."
Hanel said Mabus told him that the USS Billings would be ready for commissioning in 2019.