Posted by: arbeam | April 1, 2013

USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15) Two Cultures, One Crew

U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY (Aug. 28, 2012) A rigid-hull inflatable boat manned by members of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 12 enters the well deck of Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15). EODMU-12 is assigned to Commander, Task Group (CTG) 56.1, which provides mine countermeasures, explosive ordnance disposal, salvage-diving, counter-terrorism, and force protection for the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR). Ponce, formerly designated as an amphibious transport dock ship, was converted and reclassified to fulfill a long-standing U.S. Central Command request for an AFSB to be located in its area of responsibility

U.S. 5TH FLEET (Aug. 28, 2012) A rigid-hull inflatable boat manned by members of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 12 enters the well deck of Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15). EODMU-12 is assigned to Commander, Task Group (CTG) 56.1, which provides mine countermeasures, explosive ordnance disposal, salvage-diving, counter-terrorism, and force protection for the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR). Ponce, formerly designated as an amphibious transport dock ship, was converted and reclassified to fulfill a long-standing U.S. Central Command request for an AFSB to be located in its area of responsibility

To the casual observer, Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15), may appear to be just another haze gray Navy vessel operating in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility, but a look inside the skin of the ship reveals something much different than the standard U.S. Navy military crew and a challenge for traditional thinking; leading a unique hybrid Navy and Military Sealift Command civil service mariner (CIVMAR) crew.

Married couples, sons and daughters, piercings, ponytails, beards, dreadlocks, Nike sneakers and backwards ball caps add to the remarkable blending of the MSC civilian mariners and their uniformed Navy shipmates serving aboard Ponce. As civil service employees, MSC crew’s clothing and grooming standards are far from typical for Navy Sailors. (However, in the near future MSC will implement a pilot program to test new flame-resistant uniforms for CIVMARs aboard two ships, including Ponce.)

The military crew is also an out of the ordinary manning concept, since all military Sailors are individual augmentees from more than 50 commands worldwide, serving in seven, nine and 11-month rotations.

Read the Full All Hands article

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