USS New York -- On December 3, 2013, a San Antonio class, landing platform dock warship, the USS New York, left its first home port in Norfolk, Va. to sail south down the Atlantic coast to its new home port, Jacksonville, Fla.
The United States Navy is moving the USS New York to Jacksonville, Fla. in order to position the ship in a better strategic location. Currently, Norfolk Naval Base is home to the majority of the Navy’s vessels, and by moving some of those vessels to Jacksonville, Fla. the Navy will improve its response time and overall readiness.
“The Navy wants to maintain at least two strategic home ports, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket so to speak,” said Captain Jon C. Kreitz, the commanding officer of the USS New York, and a San Juan Capistrano, Calif. native. “It’s not just a strategic dispersal of forces, that’s just one part of it. The other thing is to maintain the industrial base of the Mayport-Jacksonville area.”
Around 80 Marines from headquarters battalion, 2nd Marine Division, of Camp Lejeune, N.C. were bussed up to Norfolk, Va. in order to take the journey to Jacksonville on the USS New York. The Marines presence on ship is not only a representation of the long standing brotherhood between the United States Navy and Marine Corps, but also a great way for the Marine Corps to get back to its amphibious roots.
“Moving some of our amphibious readiness groups, or ARG as we like to call it does two things,” said Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 2nd Class Ben Scotece, the Marine liaison officer permanently assigned to the USS New York, and a Norfolk, Va. native. “It gives more room for all the amphibious ships in Norfolk, and allows for another strategic position upon the east-coast.”
The New York is a special designed LPD that can hold a significant amount of Marine Corps combat vehicles.
“Depending on what the Marine Expeditionary Unit mission is, depends on what we carry and how the command wants to disburse the forces across the ships,” said Scotece. “We can hold up to 16 Amphibious Assault Vehicles which would be a part of the first wave in the event of an amphibious landing along with two V-22 Osprey helicopters.”
The USS New York is an exceptionally special ship, that each and every Sailor and Marines aboard can relate to and take pride in. “This ship has a very special bow, which is the part of the ship the cuts through the ocean, it is made with seven and a half tons of steel from the World Trade Center,” said Master Chief Shawn Isbell, the ships command master chief and Cleveland, Ohio native.
The ship is also decorated with several pieces of New York and World Trade Center memorabilia. This gives the Marines and Sailors aboard the ship a great deal of pride, due to the fact that around nearly every corner is a reminder of what happened on that tragic day of September 11th, 2001.
During the New York’s voyage to its new home port, the ship’s crew took time out of their day to pay tribute to 20 Marines and Sailors with a burial at sea ceremony. The ceremony brought the Marines and Sailors together to honor those who served before them.
“Whenever we [New York] do something such as the burial memorial service that was performed earlier today for Marines and Sailors who have passed away, it makes things just a little bit more special,” said Isbell. “We serve on a ship that is dedicated to a tragedy that happened in everyone on board’s lifetime, and the seven and half tons of steel that is forged into the ship doesn’t just belong to the USS New York or New York City, it belongs to the United States of America.”
The New York is schedule to make port in Jacksonville Fla. on Friday morning, and from there it will continue keeping true to the its motto, ‘Strength forged through sacrifice…never forget!