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Naval Station Mayport, Fla., got a boost Tuesday when the Navy's top officer confirmed it as the future home and primary site of East Coast littoral combat ships.
The first LCS vessels are to be homeported at Mayport beginning in 2016, Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, said during a military construction hearing on Capitol Hill.
The ships, of which two are now in service, are initially being based at San Diego.
The Florida base is normally home to an aircraft carrier, a handful of cruisers and destroyers, and about a dozen frigates. But the base has been without a carrier for three years, and all the frigates are scheduled to decommission over the next few years. The Navy, supported by the recent Quadrennial Defense Review, is upgrading the base to take a nuclear aircraft carrier.
Roughead said the LCS vessels are seen as a replacement at Mayport for the frigates.
He also said the LCS is optimized for operations in Southern Command, which overseas Central and Latin America. Those missions include counterdrug operations and maritime cooperation work, similar to the deployment now being carried out by the Freedom, the first LCS.