The Navy concluded an environmental study last summer which found bringing 14 LCS ships to Mayport would not have a major impact and had planned to bring those ships to the First Coast by 2020.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced on Thursday the six ships -- USS Little Rock (LCS 9), USS Sioux City (LCS 11), USS Wichita (LCS 13), USS Billings (LCS 15), USS Indianapolis (LCS 17) and one ship yet-to-be-named (LCS 19) -- would head to Mayport in 2016, with an estimated crew of 900 sailors.
"LCS was designed for naval operations today and tomorrow, and will be a key component of our fleet for a long time to come," Mabus said on Thursday. "The assignment of these six ships underscores just how important the First Coast is to our national defense, and how committed we are to the strategic dispersal of our fleet. Mayport will soon be a hub for small-surface combat ships, and will continue to serve as an important Navy partner."
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., cheered the news on Thursday, insisting the LCS ships, which started being built in 2005, were paving the way for the future.
Naval Station Mayport should be the rightful home of the Navys cutting edge ships and technologies, and Im pleased by what the LCS will mean for Florida and Jacksonvilles military community, said Rubio. With this announcement, the Navy is again demonstrating how vital Mayport is to U.S. national defense and our maritime security posture.
I send an early welcome to the 900 sailors and their relatives who will soon be coming to Jacksonville to operate these ships, Rubio added.
From his perch on the U.S. House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., insisted the additional ships underscored the importance of Mayport to national defense.
This is great news for our national security and for the First Coast, Crenshaw said. The world is not a safe place, and the Navy is continually being asked to do more with its resources. Thats why Ive been fighting on Capitol Hill to fund and maintain a robust fleet that includes the LCS, and bring these ships to Northeast Florida.
With its strategic location, Naval Station Mayport is the perfect fit for the LCS and cruisers, including the three-ship Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). The USS New York is already here, and the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) and the USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43) are expected later this month, Crenshaw added. With national security threats at home and around the globe, cutting back the military is not an option. Naval Station Mayport and all our First Coast military assets help anchor our national security. As the only Florida member on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I am committed to making sure they remain strong.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.