When the city of Billings, the largest in Montana, asked the Phillips 66 refinery there to help sponsor the commissioning of its first namesake U.S. Navy ship, the answer was obvious.
“This was clearly important to Billings, our veterans and our employees, so it was important to Phillips 66,” said Phillips 66 Human Resources Business Partner Director Mark Wade.
The USS Billings, the newest freedom-class littoral combat ship in the Navy fleet, was commissioned into service on Aug. 3 in Key West, Florida. The ship, with Billings artifacts on board and passageways named after major city streets, is designed to operate in waters close to shore and can be used by small assault forces.
The refinery was the first to sign on as a corporate sponsor of the commissioning, which is the formal ceremony held when a Navy ship enters active service. It donated $41,000 toward the event, with $4,500 raised by the Billings Refinery Veterans Network, making it the largest single donor.
“We are extremely proud of our Veterans Network and the events they coordinate around Billings to provide support and a sense of community for those who have served our country,” said Ray Rigdon, Billings Refinery manager. “They do a terrific job of representing our core values of safety, honor and commitment and are great ambassadors for Phillips 66.”
To show the city’s appreciation for Phillips 66, Billings Mayor Bill Cole presented the company with the 66th commemorative coin that was minted for the commissioning, out of 1,500. Wade also was made an honorary plank owner, a symbolic honor that was historically reserved for sailors who are members of the crew when a Navy ship is commissioned.
The city of Billings also gave the refinery a 3-foot model of the ship. The refinery displayed the model briefly at the facility before donating it back to the city.
“Not many people from Billings will ever get to see the actual ship, so we wanted to donate the model back to the city — back to the people of Billings,” Wade said.