Earlier this month USS PONCE (AFSB-I) got underway on a historic deployment as our first-ever Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB). The timeline of this deployment is remarkable when you consider that just six months ago she finished her “final” operational deployment and was on schedule to be decommissioned. From the moment we received the order to execute, our shipyard workers and staffs at MSC, NAVSEA, and CNSL (and later, the PONCE crew) worked around the clock to complete the maintenance and refurbishments necessary for her new missions. We went from zero-to-complete in just three months – a remarkable feat for an unplanned and very significant overhaul of a 42-year old ship.
Having recently commemorated (and written about) the Battle of Midway, I am reminded of the herculean effort from the Pearl Harbor shipyard workers to get the USS YORKSTOWN (CV 5) turned around after the Battle of Coral Sea and back into the fight at Midway. YORKTOWN was hit hard at Coral Sea and initial estimates were that it would take three months to return her to service…ADM Nimitz needed her back in the fight in just three days. Our Naval engineers and shipyard workers at Pearl Harbor worked around the clock to make the necessary repairs and three days later she got underway from Pearl Harbor just in time to join Task Force 16 in the Battle of Midway – the turning point of the war in the Pacific.
Just like the men and women at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in 1942, our PONCE teams worked together to overcome many significant challenges (technical and bureaucratic) to fix her and send her back to the fight on a very tight timeline. I could not be more pleased with the hard work and commitment we received from all involved. PONCE and her crew will soon arrive on station, ready for tasking. All the best, JCHjr