H 62° L 42°
  • cloudy-day
    Current Conditions
    Clear. H 62° L 42°
  • clear-night
    Clear. H 62° L 42°
  • clear-night
    Clear. H 67° L 48°

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00


The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00


The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

“Keeper of the Seas” the future USS Wichita will soon call Naval Station Mayport home

“Keeper of the Seas” the future USS Wichita will soon call Naval Station Mayport home

“Keeper of the Seas” the future USS Wichita will soon call Naval Station Mayport home
Photo Credit: Stephanie Brown

“Keeper of the Seas” the future USS Wichita will soon call Naval Station Mayport home

In the first commissioning ceremony to happen at Naval Station Mayport since 2006, the future USS Wichita will formally enter Navy service this Saturday.

It marks continued growth for Naval Station Mayport- the ship is the fifth Littoral Combat Ship to call Mayport home so far, and the base is expecting 16 overall by 2023. But as the Sailors settle in to their new home, they’re also keeping a strong connection with the city the ship is named for.

GALLERY: Future USS Wichita

Commander Nathan Rowan, the future USS Wichita’s Commanding Officer, has served on five ships at Mayport, including as the Executive Officer on the USS Philippean Sea. He says his 70-man crew has been challenged in learning the systems and technology, and dealing with the evolving design of mission elements of the ship, but they’ve been rising to the occasion and are excited to be the commissioning crew.

“It’s great, it’s a unique experience. We’re the first to embark a ship, bring it to life, figure out all the cool things the ship can do. The learning curve for us is very steep, however, we get to be the first to do a lot of cool things on board, so it’s been a wonderful experience,” Rowan says.

Unique to this ship, Rowan says when he took command, the vast majority of the crew had already served on an LCS. He says that experience made their work so far much easier, and continues to be something they prioritize, as those Sailors move to new assignments.

“The resident knowledge is being passed down from those Sailors who are getting ready to leave, to those Sailors that are now embarking. So our level of readiness has been sustainable,” he says.

Rowan says he is proud of the camaraderie and care among the ship’s Sailors, which is magnified by the small size of the group, compared to other ships. At just 70 Sailors, he says they all roll up their sleeves and do what needs to be done, right down to everyone being accountable for doing their own dishes. The ship’s technology- which relies heavily on cameras to watch areas that would otherwise traditionally be manned- aids them daily, and sometimes the small size even gives them an advantage. Rowan says they all enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal with recipes that you may not see on another ship, because they get to take some more liberties, since there are fewer mouths to feed.

For many of the Sailors who serve on the future USS Wichita, their assignment was a bit of luck.

“The fact that I’ll be able to be stationed on the ship representing the city that I was born and raised in, it’s a good honor and privilege,” says Operations Specialist Isaac Davis.

The future USS Wichita is the third ship to be named for the Kansas city, and natives like Davis say that makes being part of the commissioning crew even more special.

“The ship and the Sailors will definitely do the city proud,” he says.

Chief Information Systems Technician Brian Tanner, another Wichita native, has served in the Navy close to 15 years. He’s been a plank owner for a shore command, but never for a ship. It’s an honor he says is right up there with making Chief.

“I leave my mark, leave a piece of me, and I always take a piece of her with me,” Tanner says.

The ship shows that connection as well. A cabinet on board is filled with Wichita-related memorabilia that they proudly display, including a ball and bat signed by Wichita’s minor league team, fire helmet signed by a fire station in Wichita, books written and donated by the ship’s sponsor, and more. Even the ship’s motto, “Keeper of the Seas”, is a play on the “Keeper of the Plains”, which is a well-known statue in Wichita.

A commitment to honoring Wichita doesn’t mean their new City is being left behind.

Rowan says they look for opportunities for the crew to be in the Jacksonville community together, like volunteering at events or building under Habitat for Humanity. Many of the Sailors’ families have also been living in the city for several months, in anticipation of the commissioning and homeporting.

“It does something not only for the base, but also for the community- which is very important- and the economy here in Florida,” Rowan says.

Just a few years ago, Mayport was at a historically low level of ships, with just 13, because of the decommissioning of the guided missile frigates. The peak in the 1980s saw more than 30 ships in the basin. The Navy moved the USS Iwo Jima, USS New York, and USS Fort McHenry to Mayport in order to boost the level back up, and the base has been designated as the East Coast homeport for the LCS ships, specifically housing the Freedom variant of the ship.

The future USS Wichita is the third ship officially added at Mayport in just the last month and a half, along with the USS Sioux City- another LCS- and the guided missile destroyer USS Thomas Hudner. At least two more ships are slated for this year, the LCS’s USS Billings in August and USS Indianapolis in November.

GALLERY: USS Thomas Hudner

For the future USS Wichita, their goal is training and development. The ship will continue operations later this month testing systems and doing other work off which the Navy can learn what on the ship works well and what may need improvement. They’re specifically designated for mine countermeasures, and Rowan says there are experts on board this very minute working on the design of that mission package.

In addition to providing lessons learned for the Navy, in the Mayport basin, they’ll serve as a training platform for Sailors on other LCSs.

The future #USSWichita is being commissioned this weekend at Naval Station Mayport. I’m speaking with Sailors and the ship’s CO.

Posted by Stephanie Brown, News 104.5 WOKV on Thursday, January 10, 2019

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced Tuesday that she plans to run for president in the 2020 race for the White House. >> Read more trending news The New York Democrat said in an appearance Tuesday on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” that she was filing the paperwork necessary to launch an exploratory committee, which would enable her to raise money for a White House run. “I'm going to run as president of the United States because, as a young mom, I'm going to fight for other people's kids as hard as I would fight for my own,” she said Tuesday. Here are some things to know about Gillibrand: Gillibrand was born Dec. 9, 1966, in Albany, New York. She attended the Academy of Holy Names, an all-girls Catholic school in Albany, before graduating in 1984 from the Emma Willard School in Troy, New York. She graduated from Dartmouth College magna cum laude in 1988 and earned her law degree from the UCLA School of Law in 1991. She worked as an attorney for more than a decade before being elected to represented New York in the U.S. House of Representatives. She represented the state's 20th congressional district in the House until 2009. After President Barack Obama was elected to office in 2008, he chose former first lady Hillary Clinton, who at the time represent New York in the U.S. Senate, to serve as his secretary of state. Gillibrand was chosen to replace Clinton, The New York Times reported. She went on to win the seat when voters went to the polls in 2010. Gillibrand has butted heads with President Donald Trump before over allegations of sexual assault, which Trump has denied. In December 2017, Trump took to social media to call Gillibrand 'a total flunky' who 'would do anything' for campaign contributions. Gillibrand criticized the president's response, calling it 'a sexist smear.' Gillibrand lives in Brunswick, New York, with her husband of 18 years, Jonathan Gillibrand, and their sons, Theodore, 15 and Henry, 10.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is welcoming back K9 Officer Jeremy Mason, nearly 18 months after he was shot in the face while chasing a robbery and carjacking suspect. The shooting happened in July 2017, when police were called to 103rd Street and Old Middleburg Road, after community tips led them to believe a bank robbery suspect was in that area. Police say that suspect- since identified as 28-year-old Michael Harris- carjacked and kidnapped a woman there by getting in her car and forcing her to drive off. JSO says Mason was shot in the ensuing chase, but continued to pursue the suspect. The suspect vehicle got in a crash with a civilian car, and Mason and a detective ultimately fatally shot Harris when he refused to disarm, according to police. Mason has undergone 12 surgeries through his recovery, according to JSO. Today marks the first day back on the job for Mason and K9 Echo.
  • With a partial government shutdown showing no signs of being resolved, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday basically ‘disinvited’ President Donald Trump from a scheduled January 29 State of the Union Address, saying that the Secret Service and Homeland Security Department should not be tasked with such a major event while they are in a shutdown status. “Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened,” Pelosi wrote in a letter sent to the President on Wednesday morning. There was no immediate reaction from the White House or the President. The President gives the State of the Union at the invitation of the Congress, as the House and Senate must agree to use the House chamber for such an event. The reaction in Congress split down party lines. “It is very ironic that Democrats reference security concerns in their latest grandstanding tactic, delaying the State of the Union, but will not address the security concerns that are creating a humanitarian crisis at the border,” said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN). “We know the state of our union,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), as Democrats said there should be no speech from the President while the partial shutdown continues. In an interview with NBC News, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the President had been “disinvited” by Pelosi.
  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi asked President Donald Trump on Wednesday to postpone his State of the Union address as the partial government shutdown that started Dec. 22 continues. >> Read more trending news Earlier this month, Pelosi invited Trump to deliver the annual State of the Union address on Jan. 29. However, the California Democrat said Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Secret Service -- the agency tasked with coordinating and implementing security for certain special events, including the State of the Union address -- have not been paid for 26 days. >> State of the Union 2019: What day, what time, who will be there? “Given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th,” Pelosi said. Pelosi noted that State of the Union addresses were routinely brought to Congress in writing up until the presidency of Woodrow Wilson in 1913. >> Who is Nancy Pelosi? California Democrat elected as House speaker 'Since the start of modern budgeting in Fiscal Year 1977, a State of the Union address has never been delivered during a government shutdown,' Pelosi said. Several federal agencies have been closed and thousands of government employees have been compelled to wok without pay since last month, when lawmakers failed to approve of a budget to keep the federal government running. >> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: Coast Guard misses paychecks as partial shutdown reaches Day 25 At issue is funding for a proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border that Democrats have opposed. Trump has signaled that he’ll refuse to sign any budget passed by lawmakers that fails to include $5.7 billion to build the wall.
  • Police in California are hoping the public can help them identify a toddler found dead nearly 15 years ago. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's 'Help ID Me' page, hikers discovered the remains of the boy, known as 'Baby Doe,' in May 2004 near the Rancho Bernardo Community Park in San Diego. >> Read more trending news  'The remains were found by two hikers who noticed a green padded winter-type coat lying over a green and white duffel bag,' read the Facebook post shared Tuesday. 'When they removed the coat and looked in the bag, they saw a human skull and bones.' The 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-year-old boy likely died at least a year before he was discovered, authorities said. He had been 'wearing red warm-up pants, gray-tan socks, a blue vest and two sweatshirts,' the Facebook post said. Investigators also released sketches of what the child may have looked like. >> See the images here Forensic tests showed that the boy's mother 'likely spent time in the Southeast while pregnant and may have lived in Texas shortly after the child was born before ultimately moving to the southern California area,' the post said. >> Watch the video here If you have information about the case, please call 1-800-THE-LOST.

The Latest News Videos