USA: Amphibious Transport Dock Gets Underway for Florida

Amphibious Transport Dock Gets Underway for Florida

Amphibious transport dock USS Ponce (LPD 15) departed Naval Station Norfolk Oct. 25 on her way to Florida, the first of her final three port calls before being decommissioned.

Commissioned in 1971, Ponce is on her way for a visit to Port Canaveral, Fla., before heading in the Caribbean to call in the Virgin Islands and at her namesake city of Ponce, Puerto Rico. Upon returning to Norfolk in December, Ponce will begin the long decommissioning process that will close out her 41-year career March 30, 2012.

Lt. Cmdr. Ethan Mitchell, Ponce’s executive officer, said the port visit to Florida is significant because the Navy has not had a large presence along the Space Coast, and this is a chance for the Navy to get its mission and people out to places it normally doesn’t go.

“We’re usually in our homeport and around Hampton Roads, but this is a chance to show the Navy to an area that is not used to seeing it,” Mitchell said.

Ponce’s Sailors will have a chance to speak at local high schools, participate in a community service project at a local veterans’ home, and mingle with the citizens of Port Canaveral.

Ponce is part of Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, which is homeported at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Va.

Source: navy, October 31, 2011