US Sending 'Mothership' to Gulf for Special Ops
Navy retrofitting warship for commando missions: Washington Post
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2012 6:10 AM CST
The amphibious assault ship USS Ponce is being converted into a "mothership" that can serve as a floating base for special forces in the Persian Gulf region.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – With the US increasingly relying on targeted special ops instead of large military forces, the Pentagon will send an aging warship to the Gulf region to serve as a "mothership" for Navy SEALs and other special forces fighting Somali pirates, al-Qaeda, and other threats (like maybe this), reports the Washington Post. Navy officials say they are moving quickly to convert and deploy the USS Ponce by early summer, refitting it into a floating base so it can handle small, high-speed boats and helicopters.

The US already has a naval base in Bahrain and usually has one or two aircraft carrier groups in the region, so the Ponce—which is being converted into an "Afloat Forward Staging Base"—will not provide much additional firepower, according to the Post; rather, it will enable special forces to operate more aggressively. Also, a mothership can stay in one location for months at a time, unlike most Navy ships that are constantly on the move.