USS New York to sail for new home: Mayport

WJXT crew aboard Navy ship as it shifts homeport from Norfolk to Mayport

NORFOLK, Va. - The USS New York will leave Naval Station Norfolk Wednesday morning for its new home at Naval Station Mayport, and WJXT will be on board covering the two-night transit.

The arrival of the USS New York is part of a larger move of an amphibious-ready group's homeport change to Mayport -- part of a larger shift in forces that Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, announced in 2012. The USS Iwo Jima and USS Fort McHenry are scheduled to follow by the end of 2014. The Amphibious Ready Group is made up of an amphibious assault ship, an amphibious transport dock ship and a dock landing ship.

Moving these three ships is a much needed boost for Mayport which has been lacking in ships and staff since the Kennedy left several years ago. Mayport hasn't had an aircraft carrier since the USS John F. Kennedy was decommissioned in 2007. The proposed move of a nuclear powered carrier to Mayport keeps getting pushed back and now isn't scheduled until 2020 at the earliest.

The Navy has been retiring the guided missile frigates that make up the bulk of Mayport's fleet, which now stands at 22 ships including three coastal patrol vessels that just moved here last month.

The move of the three amphibious ships the beginning of what's expected to be significant growth at Mayport over the next couple of years.

"This is a big deal for Mayport," says Wes McCall, commanding officer of Naval Station Mayport. The three ships combined will bring 2,000 sailors and Marines along with their families to Jacksonville.

This amphibious ready group will also bring an estimated $75 million in maintenance and repair work annually. The Navy says the homeport change will ensure the preservation of the ship repair industrial base in both Hampton Roads and Mayport.

About 360 sailors and Marines are stationed on the USS New York and will make the move to Mayport this week. The crew loaded about 100 of their personal cars onto the ship Tuesday in preparation of their move.

Channel 4 photojournalist Joe Drumm are I will board the ship in Norfolk Wednesday morning and be along for the ride down to Mayport. We're expected to arrive late Friday morning and will fly off the ship on an Osprey that will land at Naval Station Mayport prior to the ship pulling into port.

Internet and phone access will be limited on board but you can follow @ericarakow on Twitter and "Like" the WJXT4 Erica Rakow fan page on Facebook for updates.

Ships like the USS New York provide the nation a crisis response capability and demonstrate the Navy-Marine Corps team in action as most recently seen in the Philippines and in Haiti in 2010.

As described by the Navy, this amphibious transport dock will support "amphibious assault, special operations or expeditionary warfare missions throughout the first half of the 21st century." The USS New York is one of the newer ships in the Navy's fleet. The ship was named ‘New York' after the state and was contracted out a few years after the September 11th terrorist attacks. The ship's bow is built with 7.5 tons of steel from the World Trade Center.

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