MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy's first Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15), will showcase its much anticipated capabilities in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) during International Mine Countermeasures Exercise 2012 (IMCMEX 12), Sept. 16-27.
Designated as an amphibious transport dock (LPD) more than 41 years ago, Ponce was converted and reclassified as an AFSB(I) in April and arrived in Bahrain for duty, July 6, to fulfill a longstanding U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) request.
"The hard work of this crew gets just credit for providing Central Command options to maintain maritime security in the region, and the flexibility to support a wide range of contingencies," said Capt. Jon Rodgers, commanding officer of USS Ponce. "As the first dedicated afloat forward staging base, we look forward to integrating this new platform during IMCMEX 12 with all our coalition and regional partners."
During the exercise, Ponce will demonstrate its ability to stage people and equipment, and provide support to surface ship and mine countermeasures operations. Additionally, Ponce will embark, launch and recover helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and small craft.
"There is no script for this multi-lateral operation in Ponce, given the various equipment and gear from our partners; just an outstanding crew with a firm grasp of basic seamanship and a 'must do' attitude," said Rodgers. "Ponce celebrated her 41st birthday this year, yet with our team and the capable machine and repair facilities, we continue to provide great support to our ship and other naval assets in the region."
IMCMEX 12 brings together more than 30 international partners. The exercise will focus on mine countermeasure (MCM) operations, but will also include MCM support activities; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support; maritime security operations; visit, board, search and seizure events; maritime critical infrastructure protection; explosive ordnance disposal; maritime domain awareness and force protection.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.