U.S. sending floating naval base through the Suez Canal
File photo of the USS Ponce before it was refitted for long-term duty in the Persian Gulf.
June 21st, 2012
06:05 PM ET

U.S. sending floating naval base through the Suez Canal

 By Barbara Starr

A U.S. warship designed as a floating base for naval special forces is scheduled to transit through the Suez Canal for the first time as early as Friday, Navy officials say.

The USS Ponce, an amphibious transport ship, recently finished a complete overhaul that now has it configured to operate as a floating staging platform for the military. It is being launched into the oil shipping lanes at a time of heightened tensions across the region, U.S. Navy officials told CNN.

The ship began approaching Suez on Thursday and is expected to enter the canal shortly on its way to the Persian Gulf.

The ship will function as a staging base for special operations forces and small patrol boats, including mine countermeasure vessels, in gulf waters that Iran has previously threatened to shut down.

Gen. James Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East, had long pressed for the conversion of the Ponce in order to have a mobile platform from which troops could quickly deploy at a time when budget cuts are restricting large-scale deployments.

The Ponce is specifically tailored to maritime missions in the Persian Gulf region, where land-based forces often do not have ready access and concerns persist about maintaining open access to the Strait of Hormuz for international shipping.

The ship has a mixed crew of Navy officers and enlisted personnel, as well as civilian government mariners.

The ship is expected to reach Bahrain about 10 days after making it through the canal. It is not clear when combat forces may board the ship.

soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Kaleb

    sorry best I could do

    September 30, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Reply
  2. Kaleb

    I'm doing a project of the Suez canal for school and this is the do.

    September 30, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Reply
  3. Medine

    Waaaaay to rationalize our chceois in life! Too bad we tend to choose to avoid communicating how we really feel. Had we just done so, we MIGHT have achieved greater mutual understanding with those we have issues with, sooner, rather than later.

    September 13, 2012 at 12:32 am | Reply
  4. brown

    Stop your whining losers! It is you, the American electorate whom continues to re-elect the same good ole boys to
    Congress. While these self serving representatives enrich themselves, your country is being brought to its knees.

    Keep on re-electing them! hahahaha!

    Stop your whining!

    July 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Reply
  5. nancy

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    When you spend months steaming without port to do paint (most ports now do not allow you to paint in thier port without paying big bucks) you tend to get a little rust especially as you notice out of SEAWATER scupper ports.....gee how amazing salt water months at sea protecting American hypocrit libs you get rust lets just pull in immediately and paint that stuff..........caption before retrofit not good enough for you.......

    June 27, 2012 at 11:13 am | Reply
  6. Jason

    The "Proud Lion." I miss you, old girl.
    Former Marine, 22 MEU.

    June 25, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Reply
  7. 08oo

    For those not familar with the spectrum of task for special forces and to open the horizon to the situation in Syria, I suggest to check this handbook or training Circular with the subject "Special Forces Unconventional Warfare";

    "There is another type of warfare—new in its intensity, ancient in its origin—war by guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins; war by ambush instead of by combat, by infiltration instead of aggression, seeking victory by eroding and exhausting the enemy instead of engaging him. It preys on unrest." or later:

    1-1. The intent of U.S. UW efforts is to exploit a hostile power’s political, military, economic, and psychological vulnerabilities by developing and sustaining resistance forces to accomplish U.S. strategic objectives."

    source: Special Forces Unconventional Warfare
    Training Circular No. 18-01
    US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School,
    search for: USArmy-UW.pdf

    June 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Reply
  8. Chuck J

    USS Ponce as in Puerto Rico? How about USS White house?

    June 24, 2012 at 8:29 am | Reply
  9. Mikey

    No wonder everyone in the world and his uncle is kicking US around.

    June 24, 2012 at 8:28 am | Reply
  10. Mark

    THAT'S supposed to intimidate Syria and Iran???? A rusted hunk of junk? For all of America's issues, I thought the Navy was still pretty powerful..., Guess I was wrong.

    June 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Reply
    • StanCalif

      Another one who doesn't "read" before writing!
      This is a file photo from "before" the ship was completely overhauled!

      June 23, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Reply
    • OregonTom

      That ship if full of Navy SEALS and private contractors. That seems pretty dangerous to me.

      June 24, 2012 at 10:02 am | Reply
    • stateschool

      1. As Stan and the caption said, that's an old file photo before the complete overhaul.
      2. Remember those mine-hunting dolphins on the news during Iraq War II? Remember how effective they were? If you don't, Google "US Navy Marine Mammal Program." Those ARE intimidating to a navy that relies so heavily on mines the way the Iranians do (several US warships have been struck by Iranian mines in recent history, in case you forgot).
      3. SEALs are intimidating. (period)

      June 24, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  11. Mo Montana

    I knew we were broke but didn't realize that we can't afford to paint our dinghies and put a flag on it.

    June 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Reply
    • Chris

      Seems like the back half has been chopped off !!

      June 23, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Reply
  12. Jon

    They could at least paint that boat. It's the crappiest looking naval boat I have ever seen.

    June 23, 2012 at 10:15 am | Reply
    • StanCalif

      Another one who doesn't "read" before writing!
      This is a file photo from "before" the ship was completely overhauled!

      June 23, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Reply
  13. StanCalif

    When an older Navy ship is reconditioned, the work is done in US shipyards by US workers. This not only creates a modernized vessel, but it provided employment for US workers. Let's all hope this work never gets "out sourced" to China! Chinese shipyards could have done the work for much, much less money. The result would be seeing Chinese copies being built as they are rapidly increasing their naval capabilities.

    Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are building a new bridge to replace an old one. Every piece of steel was fabricated in China. Even the enormous floating crane need to assemble the pieces was built in China! Huge amounts of concrete were required also. Guess what? Before this project began, a Mexican Corp. came in and bought out many local concrete companies! We could not import wet concrete from China, but we allowed the Mexicans to "get in on the deal"! And we wonder why our economy is in such a mess?

    The article states that this ship is operated by "civilian mariners". Why? Why do we employ civilians to operate Navy ships when Naval officers and crew would cost much less? This makes no sense at all. I can only guess that some Congressman made a fortune for himself (one way or another) in agreeing to such an arrangement! The US doesn't have a "civilian" abundance of trained ship Captains and crew. Where did these people come from?

    June 23, 2012 at 8:09 am | Reply
    • NN

      " Why do we employ civilians to operate Navy ships when Naval officers and crew would cost much less?" A cost accountant you are not. The Navy military sealift command fleet is manned almost exclusively by civilian mariners.
      "Military Sealift Command operates approximately 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.- from their website.

      June 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  14. Heather

    It looks to me like a sitting duck decoy that's not even functionable, just to see if it will get hit or not. Oxidation on the sides there....? Now I know our Military can still afford to buy paint and primer.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Reply
    • dreamer96

      That is a file photo, did you bother to read the text under the picture, it is an old picture..no date..before the ship was refitted..The story says the ship just recently finished a complete overhaul, which probably meant, dry dock work too...and a fresh coat of paint..

      June 22, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Reply
      • NN

        It's still a sitting duck unless it is accompanied by destroyer escort(s). That crummy little $65M overhaul obviously did not include much in the way of self-defense weapons systems, it was mostly rehabilitation of dated living quarters, navigation equipment, and some plant automation.

        June 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  15. McHio

    What are we doing publicizing the ships movement in the first place? What happened to responsible journalism? Everytime we write and publish where our ships, aircraft, and other military hardware and personnel are, we put those people and material in greater danger.
    As a former Navy sailor and journalist, I really do not like what I am seeing here, listening to on the radio, reading in newspapers, magazines, on blogs, tweets, facebook, linkedin, or in videos and television. Stop the irresponsible writing and think of what you are doing....think of the consequences!!!!!

    June 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Reply
    • AC

      Don't you think the public has a right to know? For one, we're paying for it. For two, maybe if more reality of war was shown to the public, we wouldn't still be over there.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Reply
      • joe


        June 22, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • joep199

      Do you think that the ship's passage through the Suez canal will go unnoticed? It's not like this a big secret from anyone.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Reply
    • NN

      The mission of this ship for anti-mine warfare in the Persian Gulf has been publicized for the better part of the year in the military press, it is no secret, and it's kinda hard to transit the Suez Canal in secrecy. So if everyone in the world knows where this ship is then why not the American public? The CNN report is a very abbreviated account compared to all the other public announcements.

      June 24, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Reply
    • trina

      why tell the ships movement come on now i want my husband protected at all times while on this ship just not so smart

      July 17, 2012 at 9:57 am | Reply
  16. MF


    June 22, 2012 at 11:44 am | Reply
  17. MF

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    June 22, 2012 at 11:42 am | Reply
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    June 22, 2012 at 11:36 am | Reply
  19. MF


    June 22, 2012 at 11:14 am | Reply
  20. MF


    June 22, 2012 at 11:13 am | Reply
  21. MF


    June 22, 2012 at 11:12 am | Reply
  22. MF


    June 22, 2012 at 11:12 am | Reply
  23. MF


    June 22, 2012 at 11:08 am | Reply
  24. MF


    June 22, 2012 at 11:02 am | Reply
  25. SayanIndia

    The report is an erroneous one. USS Ponce is presently NOT a floating base for naval Special Forces, but an Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) operating mine-sweeping MH-53 Sea Dragon helicopters.


    June 22, 2012 at 8:03 am | Reply
  26. NFL

    where ever you go there you are

    June 22, 2012 at 12:40 am | Reply
  27. Jaimie

    Awesome idea...... A floating base

    June 21, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      Wrong, Jaimie. That's a horrific idea that will cost us more money that we don't have. This kind of idiocy needs to cease!!!

      June 22, 2012 at 7:47 am | Reply
  28. Lyndsie Graham

    It looks like Obama is stupid enough to get us into another war over there while the ignorant fools here applaud it. Like Peter, Paul and Mary said in a song back in the 1960's, "When will they ever learn?". That appears to be the 12th of Never!

    June 21, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Reply
    • sawolf

      The world taught the US to be proactive after they dragged us into WW I and WW II. It appears it is YOU that hasn't learned the lessons of History, better to fight them over there. If iran is allowed to develop nukes they will use them on ,"The Great Satan", why do you think they have already completed HEMP testing?

      June 21, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Reply
      • Reckless

        You are a moron, in the first degree.

        Iran will not use nukes.

        June 21, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
      • Thor

        I agree with reckless, you are a tool...

        June 21, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
      • George Patton

        Did it ever occur to you sawolf, that if Germany won WW1, WW2 most probably would not have happened? Moreover, the true reason we went into WW1 was to protect the investments that Wall Street had in London and Paris and not so much as to "Make the world safe for Democracy" as we were taught in our schools!!!

        June 22, 2012 at 7:43 am |
  29. Bob

    They should totally send a cruise ship that is full of soldiers instead of senior citizens playing cards. They could also blast some pirates out of the water on their way there, if there is an attempted ship-jacking. Hahaha.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Reply
    • Erik

      I would pay to watch that! Maybe make a new reality series out of it.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Reply
    • escher7

      The Seals and other ops people will board later.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Reply
  30. KidByte

    We won a lot of battles with those old rust buckets. Be kind to older Americans. They can still kick ass and take names.


    June 21, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Reply
    • marctheduck

      Heartily agree. And thanks to those vets!

      June 21, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Reply
  31. AgeofInsanity

    Looks like the old rust bucket is in dire need of a paint job.

    June 21, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Reply
    • escher7

      That is the before picture – like your wife before she puts on her makeup in the morning.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Reply
      • SL

        I hope the m0r0n read your reply

        June 21, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
      • Bob arnuckle

        I wish cnn didnt have this security clearance section. Its just a playground for anti-us propagandists to troll on. But it serves no useful purpose for us as americans. It only creates an avenue for disinformation and fake american sock puppets to try to get us arguing with each other.

        June 21, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • escher7

      It took some looking but I think this is the ship as at May 31, 2012:http://www.dailypress.com/news/military/dp-nws-ponce-carr-deploy-online-20120531,0,186384.story
      The retrofit cost $65 million but a new ship to do the same thing would have been $1 billion. She was given a pretty major overhaul including major work on the Ponce's boilers, condensers and galley. Workers also replaced equipment on the bridge for more automation to allow for the smaller crew. Living areas were also improved; many sleeping racks were torn out to give sailors more personal space.

      Some folks were not convinced the work was finished:
      It wasn't enough. I went on board Thursday as the crew was making final preparations, and the ship is a mess - unpainted bulkheads, loose panels everywhere, essential electronics uninstalled, deplorable berthings ... . I know the merchant mariners are drawing hardship pay. I hope the same is true for the sailors and Marines.

      You're welcome CNN. Next time do your homework.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Reply
  32. navyvet

    I was delayed a many of times coming home from deployment due to having to wait up for the Ponce to make it across the pond. I believe the ship should've been target practice. This class of ship was great when delivered to the Navy but have clearly become outdated in the long years of service.

    The Ponce, like most amphibs are the red-headed step child of the Navy. Amphibs are always deployed on the most god awful deployments whether it be to the middle east or doing BS humanitarian missions to countries who could care less whether the US is even there (for instance, we went to Haiti and they had riots outside the gates because we were there)

    June 21, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Reply
  33. NativeBornAmerican

    And this story is about the Panama canal we used to own and built that a democrat Jimmy Carter gave away? Do they mention how much we pay in taxes to transit the used to be ours canal? Big money...........

    June 21, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Reply
    • Outburst

      Wrong side of the globe. Suez Canal in the Middle East, not the Panama Canal in Central America.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Reply
    • Usual_Suspect90017

      Well, you clearly are a NativeBornAmerican (I'm gonna guess somewhere in the South, Midwest, or Alaska); you don't know a thing about geography.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Reply
      • Warmonger

        You sir are a jerk for stereotyping. Self absorbed progressive liberal from the west coast. :O)
        Just say its the shortcut to the middle east and not be suck a dik

        June 21, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
      • marctheduck

        Then I'm gonna guess you're in the NE or California. In either case I wouldn't advertise it too much.

        June 21, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • jimbo

      Your ignorant geographic reply says a lot about being native born. That's why we need more immigrants to offset the inbreeding of the locals.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Reply
      • RedRock99

        Oh, please, no more of those free-riding dumb ba*tards. At least this guy knows how to work, pay his taxes, and support his country.

        June 21, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Zoglet

      Darn but your dum. How embarassing for Americans if your representing them!

      June 21, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Reply
    • Terri

      So someone makes a mistake and gets slammed for it? Wow...lovely world we live in. How many here can say they never in their entire lives made a mistake?

      June 21, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Reply
    • escher7

      You are not that far off. The American government let the Suez slip away too when it opposed England and France who were willing to fight to keep control. (Suez Crisis 1956/57)

      June 21, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Reply
      • sawolf

        They did take it back after nasser nationalized it, Ike , the fool, made them give it up.

        June 21, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
      • Thor

        Your a fool, not ike..

        June 21, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  34. Bill

    The Ponce has a majority crew of civilian merchant mariners. It is also an ancient rust bucket that was shoved through a $40 million dollar overhaul to give the Navy a new toy instead of using a more modern platform

    June 21, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Reply
    • NN

      Navy can't produce a modern platform in under 20 years with their current way of doing things. So that is out of the question, this is all you're gonna get..

      June 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Reply
  35. marcus1371

    Clearly, this is not the first time an LPD has passed through the Suez canal. And furthermore...the class of ship has been in service service for a long time, and has always been used a floating port to send Marines and their equipment ashore.

    Google LPD-15. Or -14, or -13, or -12.


    June 21, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Reply
  36. gspot

    what does sandusky and caviar have in common ? they both come on little white crakrz

    June 21, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Reply
    • Dennis

      Your g spot is centered in the back of your throat.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Reply
    • escher7

      Tasteless (or not) but cute.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Reply
  37. gspot

    sandusky gave me a retrofit

    June 21, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Reply
    • Yoshi Togukawa

      I can see Jupiter from Uranus

      June 21, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Reply
  38. Chris

    George Patton what kind of Right Wing nutto are you? The Republicans are the war mongers urging military action in Syria right now. Stop watching Fox news then commenting here. We're out of Iraq, Libya was a 3 month intervention, and we'll be out of Afghanistan in 2014. If John McCain was president with Sarah "too much plastic surgery" Palin the Apocalyptic Christian we'd already be stuck "Crusading" for right wing nuts.

    June 21, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Reply
    • NativeBornAmerican

      Ah sure sure you must be a mind reader............try reading your messiah's mind yep he really is that dumb sort of like your comments.......without fact.............

      June 21, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  39. George Patton

    It sounds like Obama will be stupid enough to send more firepower to the Middle East. Let's just hope that this idiot doesn't have another war planned over there. But then again, there's a lot of mindless people here hoping that he does!!!

    June 21, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Reply
    • Yoshi Togukawa

      If this ship would have been sent by Bush, you would have said what a great President we have. He knows how to deal with those fanatics. Is being an hypocrite your main trait?

      June 21, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Reply
      • Booger

        Togukawa san: Sepuku SHOULD be an American custom, but they're too stupid to know what it means, much less DO IT. (Can you say BAKAYARO?) Now, spike your cha with saki.... it eases the pain of 'gaigen' stupidity. (Kampai!)

        June 21, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
      • George Patton

        Bush was a horrific President as anyone with half a brain knows and in no way will I say otherwise!!! We need to get out of the Middle East badly, not send more military in there!!! I trust that you agree with me, Yoshi.

        June 21, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • escher7

      The Ponce is not about firepower although there are apparently a couple of missile cruisers with her. She is a deployment platform – helicopters, Seals, other goodies you don't know about. A carrier would be firepower.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  40. John

    Looks Old and Rusty in the picture. I hope this was taken before it was "over-hauled".

    June 21, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Reply
    • NODAT1

      before retrofit in the caption

      June 21, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Reply
    • GeoWilliams

      My thoughts as well. I've seen pictures of Russian trawlers with better paint jobs.

      June 21, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Reply
    • NativeBornAmerican

      When you spend months steaming without port to do paint (most ports now do not allow you to paint in thier port without paying big bucks) you tend to get a little rust especially as you notice out of SEAWATER scupper ports.....gee how amazing salt water months at sea protecting American hypocrit libs you get rust lets just pull in immediately and paint that stuff..........caption before retrofit not good enough for you.......

      June 21, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Reply
      • Dennis

        Your mind seems a bit rusty,Native Born Conservative.

        June 21, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  41. michaeldw


    June 21, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Reply
  42. fuzzynuts55

    Why tell everyome? stupid!

    June 21, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Reply
    • NODAT1

      because everone aready knows

      June 21, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Reply

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