SIU CIVMARS Earn MSC Accolades

 

November 2012

 

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Seventy-one CIVMARS from the union’s Government Services Division were recognized Oct. 7 for their respective roles in making the U.S. Navy’s first Afloat Forward Staging Base (interim), the USS Ponce, an operational reality.

 

Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, commander, Military Sealift Command (MSC), which has operational authority of the vessel, recognized the CIVMARS, three civilian vessel officers, and 17 uniformed U.S. Navy personnel who collectively comprise the Ponce’s combined crew. The awards were presented aboard the vessel while she was underway in the Arabian Sea.

 

Ten of the CIVMARS were recipients of flag letters of commendation while the remaining 61 were awarded letters of appreciation. The Ponce’s civil service master, chief engineer and first assistant engineer each received DOD Meritorious Service Awards. Uniformed Navy personnel collectively were the recipients of one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, seven Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and seven flag letters of commendation.

 

“The capabilities you brought – folks on the other side of the street are taking note of the capability you brought in,” Buzby told the award recipients. “We read it in Washington all the time.

 

“You’ve done things that have never been done before,” the admiral continued. “You’re also setting the pace for the follow-on version of this ship, still being built. This old girl’s got a ways to steam and a lot of love for you to put into her.”

 

Navy Capt. Jon Rodgers, the Ponce’s commanding officer, also presided over the ceremony.

 

The Ponce is a 41-year-old amphibious transport dock that originally was scheduled to be decommissioned on March 30. Decommissioning was cancelled, and the vessel has been converted into an interim AFSB to fulfill a longstanding U.S. Central Command request.

The AFSB (I) is a new kind of vessel staffed by a mixed crew of civilians and U.S. Navy sailors. She will be used to support minesweeping, helicopter operations, and patrol craft. The vessel can also be utilized as a mobile staging base for special operations forces.

 

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