First littoral combat ship headed for Mayport launches Saturday

MAYPORT, Fla. — The first littoral combat ship set for Mayport launches Saturday in Wisconsin.

A million pieces welded together in northern Wisconsin came together to form the future of Mayport. Action News got exclusive access last winter to the shipyard where the littoral ships are built. Eight of them are headed for home ports in Jacksonville.

"There's going to be a thousand extra people here. This holds 600. There will be a need for more capacity," Commodore Paul Young of LCS Fleet Command said.

The ships will bring much-needed hope to Mayport.

"That's why I'm very excited. We'll be having a packed house," said William Pough of Platinum Cuts Unlimited.

The USS Little Rock is the first ship headed this way.

This week, workers in Marinette, Wisconsin, moved 380 feet and 3,500 tons of steel out of the warehouse and onto the dock.

“(The) overall process to get it in and out of the building is probably about 5 hours or so,” said Joe North, vice president of littoral ships and systems for Lockheed Martin.

It's a dramatic launch. In another ship's launch, the littorals are pushed in sideways which is a rare sight.

Another ship is expected to set sail for Mayport sometime in late 2016, with seven more ships to follow over the next five years.

The Little Rock will hit the water at 11 a.m. Saturday. You can CLICK HERE to watch the launch live.