Ponce Not Quite Floating Spec Ops Base

Well,  the Navy is trying to downplay the special operations role the USS Ponce will play after it is converted into a floating base for anti-mining, coastal patrol and special operations missions in the Persian Gulf.

The amphibious transport dock, commissioned in 1970 is being rapidly converted into an interim Afloat Forward Staging Base for such missions, with special operations being a particular focus area, the Washington Post reported last week.

However, Adm. John Harvey, commander of the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command, said this morning that the ship will not be a commando “death star,” according to multiple news reports.

“I think they put two and two together and got 22.” US News quoted Harvey as saying.

“It is not a special operations ‘deathstar,” instead the ship will “support mine [warfare] ships-not project SEALS,” the Fleet Forces Command chief said.

The four-star said the notion that Ponce will be a base for special operators from the solicitation to industry requesting bids to modify the ship, saying Navy officials do intend to build in some “spaces … to be usable by SOF.”

The Washington Post cited numerous Navy and Pentagon officials as saying the ship will be used for special operations missions in addition to anti-mine duties.

A market survey in which the Navy sought a vessel to serve as the floating base listed a requirement for the ship to be able to host  12 small boats and four choppers of the type that are frequently used by Navy SEAL commandos, mine hunters as well as coastal and river patrol teams.

Specifically, the ship must be able to simultaneously support two “riverine command boats” four “small unit riverine craft, four Mk-5 Zodiac boats and two seven-meter rigid hull inflatable boats as well as four MH-53 size helicopters and 370 personnel, according to the market survey.

The ship is being rushed into service as a floating base due to increased concerns that Iran may try to close the Strait of Hormuz.

25 Comments on "Ponce Not Quite Floating Spec Ops Base"

  1. Oooops!

  2. May want to touch up the paint as well.

  3. Still a great cost saving idea. leave it to SOCOM for that. that's the way to go and improve w/o a Billion dollar ship competition for only 4 ships made at a 500 Billion a piece.

  4. converting an old Gator is questionably a cost savings, more like an expedient solution since the USN did NOT have or maybe even look at any other ship or platform type?

  5. “Four MK-5 Zodiac boats”?
    Does the person who wrote this even know what a MK-V Special Operations Craft is or looks like?

  6. Great. Now the terrorist bad guys know what to gun for. Can we say "operational security"?

  7. Thanks to whoever pointed out to the bad guys what our SOF staging ships look like. . .

  8. How long can Ponce realistically operate four MH-53s? It has no hangar facilities for them.

  9. FormerDirtDart | February 1, 2012 at 9:44 am | Reply

    It seems pretty obvious to me, that when CENTCOM requested an asset to support counter mine operations, they likely added to their justification … "annnnd without the normal battalion size complement of Marines aboard, the ship will have ample space to stage special operations assets"

  10. Hector A. Martinez | February 1, 2012 at 9:47 am | Reply

    Looks like half the ship is a deck, where is the hangar for the choppers and where is the launch pad for the boats? Of the side? I just hope it works because the name Ponce means a lot to some people.

  11. Ships cost money.

  12. It always seemed like a pretty large craft for them to just be operating SOF guys out of. Seems like if that was the plan you are seriously limiting their projection range to near a fairly slow moving surface craft, and giving them enough room for hundreds of people. How many teams do you need on one ship? 300 worth seems like a lot. Knowing that it's being use to support anti-mine (Iran's big threat), Brown Water, anti-pirate,etc operations it seems like a better plan. It honestly is the best idea I have seen out of the navy in years.

  13. Its not OPSEC, its not deploying w/any capability the ARG/MEU doesn’t already have. SOF & Marine Specialized Units have launched special missions fr/these ships for 40+yrs.

    The only thing different is this will be a ship under SOF Operational Control.

  14. Bah.

    And in the meantime, we have legacy minesweepers that aren't really talked about. The LCS becomes a minesweeper essentially when drones are embarked. Would it be cheaper to augment legacy minesweepers now? Their weakness was low speed and reduced ability to disarm large fields, if I recall correctly.

  15. If the Ponce is not up to snuff, don't we have the Cleveland class of amphibious transport dock that has room for Command and Control for SOCOM. What about building another Harpers Ferry class dock landing ship or Whidbey Island class dock landing ship solely for SOCOM to have one on each coast

  16. It would make no sense building new ships specifically for SOCOM, just build the 38 Amphibs the USMC recommended.

    They are some of the most versatile ships in the Navy. When the Marines aren’t using the Amphibs the Navy has used them for a variety of their own real-world missions.

    If they build out to the recommended 38 Amphibs, there will be more than enough ships for SOF to have a scheduled unit rotation on available Amphibs the same way the Marines do.

  17. Perhaps a forward deployed mother ship to a few LCS ?

  18. We need 10 of these for delivery of fast craft boats and Spec Ops in Kuwait to support the 5th fleet. But it should be far from the Iranian cruise missiles reach. It should be supported by another 10 Virginia class subs for defense and just in case Iran attack the navy posted in Kuwait. Iran currently have 100 missiles boats with high powered aircraft gun on it. We need to double our (USA) numbers for self defense.

  19. Mine warfare against pirates? I dont think they had that kind of tech?

  20. I hear ingalls Shipbuliding is presenting their idea of a patrol frigate based upon the US Coast Guards NSC called Patrol Frigate 4501 and Patrol Frigate 4921. Here's the link to the post http://seawavesmagazine.blogspot.com/2012/02/inga

  21. In addition to what we already have the navy could use a powerful remote control equipment to re-control the controlled Iranian remote controlled bomb drone boats in conflict.

  22. This is a better platform than we used (Windbrown 7/Herculese); in the late 80's.
    But, I'm sure the chow isn't as good as we had, nor the other perks we had.

  23. I don’t know if it’s just me or if perhaps
    everybody else experiencing problems with your blog.
    It appears as though some of the text on your content are
    running off the screen. Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them
    too? This might be a issue with my browser because I’ve had this happen previously.

    Thank you

  24. Right away I am going to do my breakfast, afterward having my

    breakfast coming again to read further news.

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