The Ponce Still Serves
The USS Ponce, now over forty years old and officially Afloat Force Service Base (Interim) AFSB(I), still serves as a floating base for NSW, MCM, and other activities in the very warm standoff between the West and Iran in the Persian Gulf.
From a recent article about the old girl, ” Although it is under the command of a Navy captain, most of the Ponce‘s crew are civilians. It has more than 155 civilian crew members from the Military Sealift Command and 55 Navy sailors, according to the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Jon Rodgers. The number of civilian crew can fluctuate depending on who is onboard.
The MSC is normally responsible for running about 110 supply ships and other non-combat vessels for the Navy, but the Ponce‘s hybrid crew is unusual.
Visitors arriving by helicopter are met on the flight deck by some crew in uniform and others in civilian coveralls. Civilian employees keep the floors and toilets clean, and dish out corned beef hash and French toast on the mess deck. Some of the MSC crew members have dreadlocks — a no-no for enlisted sailors — and many are in their 40s or beyond. A handful are older than 60.
It’s not just the civilian crew that’s showing its age. The Ponce is among the Navy’s oldest ships. Construction began in 1966, and it was commissioned during the Nixon administration in 1971.
Rust is prevalent throughout the ship, and many of the fittings retain a Cold War feel.”
Read more here