The U.S. Navy is quietly converting a 633-foot-long cargo ship into a secretive helicopter carrier with facilities for supporting a large contingent of Special Operations forces and all their gear, including jet skis.
Yes, jet skis.
And here's the really weird thing: almost nobody is talking about the new "mothership" vessel, even though it could significantly expand America's at-sea commando footprint.
In November, Military Sealift Command — America's quasi-civilian fleet of more than 100 specialized but lightly armed vessels — awarded an initial $73-million contract to shipping giant Maersk to convert one of its cargo ships to a so-called "Maritime Support Vessel" standard.
Maersk tapped the 30,000-ton displacement M/V Cragside, built in 2011. After enduring a legal protest by rival Crowley, in January Maersk sent Cragside to the Gulf of Mexico for military modifications, most likely at the BAE shipyard upriver in Alabama.