The USS Ponce, an amphibious transport ship newly refitted as a “floating base” for US special forces to launch attacks, is heading through the Suez Canal on Friday on its way into the Persian Gulf.
The Pentagon reported the warship was to be used for “support missions in areas where ground based access is not available,” and while it is being presented as a hedge against a hypothetical mining effort by Iran it could conceivably be used to launch attacks from offshore anywhere in the region.
CENTCOM has been keen to see the USS Ponce deployed to the region, saying that the ship is uniquely suited to operating in the region, where the US doesn’t necessarily have a base in every single country from which to operate.
The ship won’t actually have any combat forces on board when it arrives in Bahrain, expected to be about two weeks from now. Officials have not said when the combat troops will be deployed.