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NORFOLK -- Hundreds of sailors are heading out to sea Friday morning.

USS Ponce heads for Bahrain in the Middle East after completing a two-month overhaul which converted it from an amphibious transport dock to an afloat forward staging base for helicopters and patrol craft.

The ship will be gone for about three years. The crew, about 50 Navy sailors and 150 Military Sealift Command civilian merchant mariners, will delay for one year until a new crew is flown to the 5th fleet to replace them.

Later, USS Carr leaves on her last cruise. She will be in the Caribbean Sea, Central and South American region to support civilian and partner nation crime operations.

The crew will be gone six months and then they'll prepare for the ship's March 2013 decommissioning. USS Carr has served the Navy for 27 years.

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