Navy’s East Coast amphibious fleet completes move to Virginia
(Tribune News Service) — The Navy has completed the shift of its East Coast amphibious fleet to Hampton Roads, Va., with the arrival Monday of the USS Iwo Jima from Mayport, Fla.
A half of a year of preparations and planning went into moving the ship’s 1,150 sailors and their families from Florida, Capt. Judd Krier said.
“It’s a huge job,” he said.
Most of the families are already here, and are settling in with the help of Fleet and Family Services, the housing office and the connections many crew members had forged from earlier stints in Hampton Roads, he said.
“It feels good to be back in Hampton Roads,” Krier said, noting that the Iwo Jima’s home port had been Norfork until 2014. He’s starting his fourth stop in Hampton Roads.
The Iwo Jima’s move means Norfolk is home to four amphibious assault ships, the large ships that lead the groups that operate with Marines and specialize in operating close to coasts.
With these four — the Iwo Jima, USS Kearsarge, USS Bataan and USS Wasp — are four amphibious transport docks — ships like USS Arlington, which anchored the recent relief effort in Haiti — at Naval Station Norfolk and five dock landing ships at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story.
The aim is to make maintenance and repair work easier by keeping the ships closer to the shipyards that do the bulk of the work.
Major work and drydock time had meant long periods away from home for Mayport-based sailors. Concentration also makes stockpiling spare parts and on-shore engineering expertise simpler.
To keep the economic impact of the amphibious move from hurting Mayport, the Navy has been moving some guided missile destroyers there.
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