Duval County

Mayport welcomes USS Donald Cook sailors

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It was a long-awaited “hello” for sailors on the USS Donald Cook.

The ship can now officially call Naval Station Mayport home. It docked in its new homeport Sunday morning after spending seven years in Spain.

“We haven’t seen our daughter in 11 months. She enlisted in the navy right out of high school,” Ginger Love said.

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“Today makes exactly 28 months,” Tammy Usea said.

Friends and family anxiously waited behind fences as their beloved sailors arrived at their new homeport from across the pond.

“She left last August so we are beyond excited to see her again,” Love said.

The ship kept busy the last seven years, with crews rotating on and off the ship.

According to officials, the ship “completed its final underway to the Aegean Sea where it performed maneuvering exercises with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), a former Mayport ship.”

Sailors stepped off, now setting foot on Florida ground and into the arms of their loved ones.

“I’m so overwhelmed with emotion I don’t even know where to start. I want to say baby but I don’t want to say it in front of all these people. My baby [has] been gone to Spain for two years, and I haven’t seen or been able to touch him. This is amazing,” Lakeisha Brown said.

Some of the sailors already had in mind what their first plans in Mayport would be.

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“I’m going to eat. I’m gonna make a good meal,” USS Donald Cook Rations Specialist Seaman Ordarrius Stewart said.

The USS Donald Cook is one of the first of Mayport’s newest assets to arrive at the port. On Monday, the USS Winston Churchill will also be arriving.