USS New York headed to Mayport early
First of three ships of amphibious ready group
The first of three amphibious transport ships scheduled to shift homeport to Naval Station Mayport will arrive next year -- sooner than expected.
The USS New York will arrive at Mayport in the fall of 2013, followed by the USS Iwo Jima and USS Fort McHenry in 2014.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who had previously indicated the ships would arrive in 2015, made the announcement of the accelerated schedule during a Friday visit to Mayport.
"The move underscores just how important Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport are to our national defense, and how committed we are to strategic dispersal on the east coast," Mabus said.
Between the three ships, the move will bring an additional 2,000 sailors to Mayport. Sen. Bill Nelson said the earlier move will also help sustain the shipping-repair business in the Jacksonville area.
"Ander Crenshaw and I've worked with the Navy for years to make this happen and to underscore the importance of Mayport," Sen. Bill Nelson said. "And earlier this year we urged the Secretary, Ray Mabus, to bring these ships down earlier. It's great news for the local economy; the security of our fleet; it's great news for our country and it's great news for the ship repair business in Jacksonville."
IMAGES: Amphibious Ready Group ships headed to Mayport
Mabus (pictured, right, speaking to sailors at Mayport on Friday) said, "I strongly believe that moving an Amphibious Readiness Group to Mayport, FL, is the right move for our forces and for our national security. I hope to have a decision on the expedited schedule by the end this summer."
According to Mabus, the USS New York and other ships of the amphibious ready group are currently deployed to the Middle East, operating in the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Gulf. They will shift from their current homeport of Norfolk, Va. Mayport also will begin receiving littoral combat ships in 2016. And Mayport still is in line to homeport a nuclear carrier late this decade.
In addition to a crew of 360, each of these ships can carry up to 700 Marines.
"This is great news for the local economy and the security of our fleet," Nelson said after Friday's announcement. "And the decision to move these ships early underscores how important Jacksonville is to the U.S. Navy."
The commanding officer of the New York, a native of Long Island and nephew of a New York City firefighter, has said the ship represents everything the nation has overcome since the 9/11 attacks. Its bow incorporates more than seven tons of steel taken from the rubble of the twin towers.
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