USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15)
LPD-15), is an Austin
-class amphibious transport dock of the United States Navy. Commissioned in 1971, she spent most of her career based on the East Coast and operating in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, serving in Operation Desert Shield and supporting US operations in the 2011 Libyan Civil War. It was intended that the ship would be decommissioned in 2012, but she gained a reprieve to be converted at short notice into a testbed for the Afloat Forward Staging Base concept, in which she would act as a base for mine-sweeping MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters in the Persian Gulf. Since the conversion, Ponce
has been used to test other ideas and technologies, such as the Laser Weapon System and operating United States Army attack helicopters at sea.
Austin Class Amphibious Transport Dock:
- Laid down, 31 October 1966, at Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction, Seattle WA.
- Launched, 20 May 1970
- Commissioned USS Ponce (LPD-15, 10 July 1971, CAPT George W. Farris USN in command
- Ponce was assigned to Amphibious Squadron Six, Amphibious Group Two, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic and is homeported at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, VA.
- Redesignated Advanced Forward Staging Base (Interim) AFSB(I), 31 March 2012
Displacement 8,894 t.(lt), 16,590 t.(fl)
Draft 23 ft.
Speed 21 kts.
Flag Staff Accommodations 90
Assault Craft (well deck capacity) one LCU, or two LCM-8 or four LCM-6
one motor whaleboat
four twin 3"/50 gun mounts
two 25mm MK38 chain guns
two Phalanx CIWS
eight 50 cal. machine guns
Aircraft two CH-46/CH-53 or four UH-1/AH-1, or two AV-8B Harriers
two Foster-Wheeler boilers
two DeLaval steam turbines
two propellers, 24,000 shaft horsepower