JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After much speculation and the threat of budget cuts derailing the deal, it’s official, Naval Station Mayport is getting more ships.
"It’s very, very good news for Mayport,” said retired U.S. Navy Admiral Bob Natter.
Tuesday night, Congressman Ander Crenshaw officially announced that the first of three ships in the Amphibious Ready Group, the USS New York (LPD 21), is moving its homeport from Norfolk to Mayport by Dec. 1, 2013.
The USS New York is one of three ships in the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) which also includes the USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and the USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43).
“It was the right thing to do for the Navy, for our defense, and certainly the right thing to do for Florida and Mayport in Jacksonville,” Natter said.
That sentiment was echoed by Crenshaw, himself, who wrote in a statement to Action News:
“As Congress deals with very difficult budget decisions, this is promising news for national security and the First Coast. This first phase of the ARG move to Mayport underscores the Navy’s commitment to a strategic dispersal of assets – a strategy I have long advocated on Capitol Hill.”
Natter also says strategic dispersal is key when it comes to a strong defense.
“All you have to do is say two words: Pearl Harbor. Strategic dispersal is absolutely a strategic imperative to the United States Navy,” said Natter.
He believes this announcement is an absolute salute to the strength of our local base.
"This is a stake in the ground that says Mayport is important,strategic dispersal is important, and this bodes well for Mayport in Jacksonville,” he said.
The USS New York move will bring 31 officers and 326 enlisted sailors and their families to the region.
According to Navy plans, the remaining ships in the ARG are scheduled to move to Mayport by 2015.