USS PONCE was originally commissioned on July 10, 1971 and designated as an amphibious transport dock (LPD) ship. PONCE became a workhorse of the Atlantic Fleet with the Proud Lions completing 27 North Atlantic, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf deployments over the next 42 years. In 2011, PONCE was selected for decommissioning after her final deployment and began deactivation in November 2011.
In January 2012, the Commander, Central Forces Command, requested an Afloat Forward Staging Base to conduct operations from the sea. United States Fleet Forces Command, under the leadership of Admiral Harvey, with CNO concurrence, took point and coordinated the efforts of industry partners with Military Sealift Command to fill the Combatant Commander’s request.
USS PONCE gained new life from a March 30 planned decommissioning ceremony, and manned with a hybrid crew of Military Sealift Command Mariners and Individual Augmentee Sailors began a 60 day sprint to meet a 01 June 2012 deployment date. PONCE was reconfigured to support mine countermeasure operations and act as a mission support vessel for FIFTH FLEET operations.
USS PONCE deployed on June 01, 2012 and is currently serving in the Central Command area of responsibility.