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JACKSONVILLE, Fla --Six Littoral Combat Ships will be homeported at Naval Station Mayport beginning in 2016, the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced Thursday.

The six Freedom-variant ships will be the Little Rock (LCS 9), Sioux City (LCS 11), Wichita (LCS 13), Billings (LCS 15, Indianapolis (LCS 17), and LCS 19, whose name is pending.

Littoral Combat Ships are described by the Navy as "fast, agile and misson-focused" and operate near coastlines.

The Navy says homeporting will eventually bring an estimated 900 Sailors and their families to the Mayport area.

"The assignment of these six ships underscores just how important the First Coast is to our national defense, and how committed we are to the strategic dispersal of our Fleet. Mayport will soon be a hub for small surface combat ships, and will continue to serve as an important Navy partner, " said Mabus.

Senator Marco Rubio welcomed the Navy's announcement saying, "Naval Station Mayport should be the rightful home of the Navy's cutting edge ships and technologies, and I'm pleased by what the LCS will mean for Florida and Jacksonville's military community."

Representative Ander Crenshaw also sees this as a positive step for Mayport.

"With its strategic location, Naval Station Mayport is the perfect fit for the LCS and cruisers, including the three-ship Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). The USS New York is already [at Mayport], and the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) and the USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43) are expected later this month."

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