US rushing 'floating base' to the Middle East

Pentagon converting vessel into "mothership" for possible use in Persian Gulf; departure slated for early summer.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
January 28, 2012 07:52
1 minute read.
USS Ponce

USS Ponce 311. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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The United States is rushing to send a large floating base to the Middle East in the face of rising tensions with Iran, al- Qaida in Yemen and Somali pirates, The Washington Post reported Friday.

The Pentagon is converting an aging amphibious transport dock, the USS Ponce, which had been previously slated for decommission, into a staging base for commando teams.

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The report stated that the floating base could potentially provide shelter for smaller speed boats and helicopters, and could also be used as a base for mine-clearing operations.

One of the main advantages of a floating base is that it can stay stationary for months, providing definite and continuous shelter for military personnel in the area. Other vessels usually patrol and change locations on a regular basis.

The report quoted US Navy officials as stating that the floating base, nicknamed the “mothership,” was being rushed in order to depart by early summer. It also cited navy documents as indicating that the it could be sent to the Persian Gulf, an area that has been hotly contested following Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz to crucial international shipping.

Linking the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean, the Strait is used to transport about a fifth of the world’s oil on a daily basis, and the popular assessment within the IDF is that Iran – which borders the channel to the north and east – has the ability to shut it down if it so chooses.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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