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Newly-commissioned USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul welcomed home in Mayport

MAYPORT — Families are hugging their Navy sailors tight, after a long-awaited homecoming at Naval Station Mayport.

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The Navy’s newest Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul arrived at its homeport Monday morning.

The ship was commissioned on May 21 in Duluth, Minnesota by the U.S. Navy.

Alfonza White is the ship’s commanding officer. He said the sailors navigated over 800 miles of restricted waters.

“This trip was all about bringing the ship to life: commissioning it and making it part of active U.S. naval ships,” Cmdr. White said.

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It was the day many families had been waiting for.

Martina Ford has been away since February and has served as the ship’s supply officer.

“This is priceless,” Ford said. ‘This is the first time I’ve been somewhat deployed as a wife and a mother,” Ford said. “I’ve been in 25 years, and it’s by far the hardest.”

Ford’s mother, Carol Gill, described what the moment meant to her.

“I’m so excited and so proud of them,” Gill said. “It has a profound effect on me. I’m speechless. When I drove up, I was like I’m not going to cry. I’m not going to cry. Then as soon as I saw the boat, there came the tears: tears of joy, tears of joy.”

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Action News Jax also spoke with the Traske family.

“It’s starting to feel more natural,” Laure said. “This is the third time has come home, but it always gives you butterflies, and it always makes us very happy to have him back.”

Her husband, Thomas, hugged his sons and wife tight after walking off the ship.

“It’s always great to come back,” Thomas said. “This is why we do it.”

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Stops were made in several areas including Cleveland, Ohio; Quebec, Canada; and Nova Scotia, Canada for refueling and replenishing supplies.

According to leaders, Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) are a fast, agile, mission-focused platform designed to operate in near-shore environments, winning against 21st-century coastal threats.

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The LCS is capable of supporting forward presence, maritime security, sea control, and deterrence.

“I would be nowhere today without my crew,” Cmdr. White said. “I would take them around the world any day of the week.”

Mayport, Florida is the USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul’s homeport.

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