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Aug 2, 2019   |  

MTN NEWS: Sharla Tester shares excitement ahead of U.S.S. Billings Commissioning

By: Victoria Hill, MTN News

The countdown is on. Come Saturday, the U.S.S. Billings will be officially commissioned into service.

It’s the first time a navy ship has ever been named after Montana’s largest city.

There’s a large contingency of Montanans in Key West for the event, including the ship’s sponsor Sharla Tester, wife of Montana U.S. Senator Jon Tester. It was in July of 2017 that Sharla Tester shattered the ceremonial champagne bottle on the bow and officially launched the U.S.S. Billings.

Now a little over two years later, the littoral combat ship is in Key West for its commissioning, and so is Tester.

“I got goosebumps, I was so thrilled and so excited but more importantly I’m excited about the ship, I’m excited about the crew, but I’m more excited about the families. I want to celebrate the families,” Tester said.

Tester joined the crew and those families Thursday for a barbecue.

She told MTN how she sees her role as the ship’s sponsor.

“I’m taking it more as the mom and the grandma of the ship. Taking the ship, the crew and their families under my wing the best I can. Actually, they are taking pretty darn good care of me too. It should be the other way around, but that’s what I feel my role is for the next 30 years at least until the de-commission the ship,” she said.

With one of the highest percentages of military veterans in the country, Tester said she’s not surprised at the support the Navy’s newest ship is getting back home.

“I know Montanans, I know my own community, I know Billings. When something like this happens, we all step up to the plate and I wasn’t worried at all. I’m so excited for those that did step up to the plate that are here. I wasn’t worried in the least. Actually, I’m really proud of Billings and the state of Montana. This is huge. Montana is on the map. A landlocked state is on the map. That’s pretty cool,” Tester said.

Her husband, Sen. Jon Tester lobbied for a ship to be named after Billings.

He’ll be giving the principal address at Saturday’s commissioning.

Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.


Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768


Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647


Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586


Capital One Center
208 N Montana Avenue, Suite 202
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462


8 Third Street E
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974


130 W Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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