By Capt. Jon C. Kreitz
Commanding Officer, USS New York (LPD 21)
On Dec. 6, I had the unique opportunity to usher in a new chapter for USS New York (LPD 21), a homeport shift from Norfolk, Va., to Mayport, Fla. The shift is part of the Navy’s dispersal of surface forces across two viable East Coast homeports as well as the preservation of the ship repair industrial base in those areas. I couldn’t be more pleased with the efforts of the crew to make the move happen, the commitment from our families to support the process, and the dedication from the communities, in both Norfolk and Mayport, to make the transition a smooth one.
A year in the making, the move represents an extraordinary effort by the entire Navy Team. As soon as the word went out that we were slated for the move, our immediate thoughts were with our Sailors, Marines and their families. We asked, ‘How can we make this transition as smooth as possible?’
The answer came from the “Navy Team.”
In the Navy, the best results come when we work as a team. Whether it is the Active and Reserve Components working together as a Total Force, a composite Navy and Marine Corps blue/green team, or a concerted effort with our civilian counterparts, we are able to provide options to meet the needs of our Sailors while accomplishing our assigned missions. We supported the crew during the transition in a myriad of ways. For example, many families chose to make the move earlier in the year because they wanted to get their children enrolled in school for the fall semester, or they just wanted to get a head start on living in Florida. Other families elected to stay behind in Hampton Roads, allowing children to finish out the school year in addition to tying up loose ends. Throughout the transition, Fleet & Family Services, in both Norfolk and Mayport, have provided invaluable assistance for the move. Assisting in everything from finding a place to live in Mayport, to job hunting, to getting the utilities turned on and off, they helped take as much of the relocation burden off of families as possible. They provided the tools to make the move a successful one.
Our Command Master Chief likes to say that USS New York’s Sailors are his “heroes,” I couldn’t agree more. Their pride in the ship and their dedication to the mission are second-to-none. They hold the unique honor of representing our Navy by executing the tenants of Warfighting First, Operate Forward, and Be Ready. We also are a living tribute to the resiliency of our nation, cutting the ocean with seven and a half tons of World Trade Center steel in our bow, demonstrating our motto and resolve, “Strength Forged through Sacrifice. Never Forget.”
Outside the skin of the ship, there have been concerns that the move may cause some hiccups in the training cycle for us, or that we may not be able to get the same level of training, maintenance, and technical support that we did in Norfolk. That has not been the case so far, nor do I expect it to be in the future. We received outstanding care and support in Norfolk, and have received nothing less from the team in Mayport. The Navy holds its training, maintenance, and technical support teams to a high standard that is enforced across the Fleet. As a matter of fact, we have already begun our first maintenance availability here in Mayport and it is going great.
I have every confidence that our transition to Mayport will continue to be seamless and enjoyable. Our first moments in Mayport spoke volumes as we received a warm welcome from hundreds of community members, eager to welcome us home and share a long tradition of hospitality and support for the Navy.
Similarly, Norfolk is a city steeped in naval tradition and generosity and I am proud to say that we called it home. However, I look forward to the new challenges that await us in Mayport.
I can assure you, the place we call home may have changed, but USS New York remains a prepared, equipped and trained element of the Atlantic Fleet amphibious team, ready to answer our nation’s tasking.
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