Good day readers! Just got back from being underway on USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15) for two days and had the opportunity to see some impressive events, such as “pouncer” ops where divers are dropped from a helo to put a fake charge on a practice mine shape; scan eagle deployment; and a sea fox mission to find a practice mine shape to calibrate sonar for the day.
Despite the interesting capabilities that I saw during my short time aboard, the changes in the ship and the crew, since I was aboard during the last IMCMEX, were profound. Much of the civilian and Navy crew had changed out on thier regular rotaion cycles, but the teamwork and integration between the two elements of crew were more evident.
Here to speak today about the afloat forward staging base, and what he has seen during the year that he has been the commanding officer, is Capt. Jon Rogers. Thanks for the embark opportunity Sir.
With IMCMEX 2013 underway, I hope this blog connects our partner friends, share thoughts and answer any questions about The Proud Lion’s new life as the Navy’s first dedicated afloat forward staging base.
IMCMEX 2012 was a real treat for Ponce’s crew because we met so many people from different cultures and worked with their technologies and equipment. We also exchanged thoughts on the noble mission of mine countermeasures and the importance of removing the indiscriminate mine threat from our planet’s waters. We intend to take this year’s performance to another level.
Beyond just IMCMEX, as I reflect on this past year, Ponce has brought many proud achievements for my personal commanding officer’s log. My fondest memories are observing first hand the incredible talents, resourcefulness and hard work of our salty military and civilian mariner crew that brought a ship destined for decommissioning back to full operational capability. Ponce has awed many visitors – each with a genuine curiosity and some misperceptions of this “thing” called an afloat forward staging base.
I wrote this blog to satisfy that curiosity, clear the misperceptions and share information about Ponce, her crew, her concepts and her mission.
Here are five facts about USS Ponce (Pon-say):
1. Ponce is a USS ship commanded by a U.S. Navy captain and is manned by 55 Sailors and 165 civilian mariners. The average crewmember’s age aboard Ponce is 43 years old.
2. Ponce will celebrate her 42nd birthday July 10, 2013. Thanks to all who have sailed aboard Ponce throughout the years!
3. When Ponce was commissioned in 1971, she had a core crew of 508 personnel. When she was re-designated as an afloat forward staging base on April 16, 2012, her crew totaled 360. Today, she sails with 220 Sailors and civilian mariners.
4. Ponce’s Navy crew consists of individual augmentees with seven-, nine- and 11-month rotations.
5. Ponce has stand-alone Wi-Fi in the ship’s Internet café.
Ponce takes great pride in recognizing the outstanding accomplishments achieved throughout the year. Intel Specialist Chief Cedrick Thomas, soon to be Chief Warrant Officer Thomas, and his two intelligence specialists, IS2 Billy Kingry and IS3 Joshua Emanis, are the sole reason Ponce earned the prestigious Surface Force Intelligence Excellence Award for 2012.
The award recognizes Pacific and Atlantic Fleet ships that contribute significantly to afloat intelligence readiness. This is a real Navy success story for Thomas, Kingry, Emanis and their families! I hope their families realize how significant their achievements have been on the home front and battlefront!
The successes of Ponce during her first year rest entirely upon the shoulders of her crew. I could not be more proud to be her commanding officer.
-Capt. Jon Rodgers, USS Ponce