In January the U.S. Navy announced a crash program to convert the USS Ponce, a 41-year-old amphibious transport, into a floating base for helicopters, minehunters and Navy SEALs in the Persian Gulf. Adm. John Harvey called the ship’s three-month conversion a “remarkable feat.”
Equally remarkable is whose idea it was, though not exclusively. For decades the Navy has occasionally used big, cheap, mostly-empty vessels to stage troops, boats and copters in conflict zones. But in recent years these “motherships” have become a core Navy concept, thanks in part to steady cheerleading by a 36-year-old, New York-based civilian IT consultant and part-time blogger with no military experience or college degree.
Meet Raymond Pritchett, better known by his internet handle “Galrahn” — a bit of nerdy wordplay referencing the Star Trek Klingon commander Gowran. For five years, he has used his blog Information Dissemination to argue for ships like Ponce, among other naval initiatives. Pritchett even claims credit for naming Ponce‘s vessel category. “Many people tell me that the term ‘mothership’ was very infrequently used as part of the Navy lexicon until I began writing about the concept,” Pritchett tells Danger Room.