A ship that was scheduled for decommissioning in December is now being converted by the United States Navy into a floating commando base in the Middle East.
The USS Ponce, which was being used as a dock in the Mediterranean Sea for the Libyan Operation, is set to be transformed into a flotilla for the U.S. Navy SEALs.
The USS Ponce is an Austin-class amphibious transport dock named for Ponce, Puerto Rico. She was launched in May 1970, and was commissioned on July 1971.
The decision to convert the USS Ponce serves as a response to a standing request made by the U.S. Central Command to the Pentagon for such a base. The U.S. Central Command oversees military operations in the Middle East. It will also be used by commando teams for high speed boats, as well as helicopters.
The United States Special Operations Command had been requesting for a transportable floating base. This “mother ship,” when conversion is completed, may help expand the range of commando squads who are operating from small speedboats in remote coastal areas.
In addition, the results of a market survey posted in December by the Military Sealift command called for the ship to have the ability to support mine counter measures. Sea mines pose a concern in the Strait of Hormuz, if Iran will realize its threat of closing the important oil passage way.
Officials say that the ship could be ready in four to five months.