Over recent years, this amphibious assault ship has been converted into a floating secret prison, forming part of the CIA network of "black sites" used for so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques". The ship’s flat hold bottom, designed to accommodate troops for disembarkment, has been equipped with cages. Prisoners are subjected to the same experiments as in Guantánamo.
Having denied it for a long time, the Pentagon eventually acknowledged that the USS Bataan had in fact been used as a prison in December 2001, but that it recovered its normal functions as of January 2002, an allegation which is contested by numerous specialists who claim that it continued to operate as a prison off shore.
It appears highly unlikely that the prisoners were taken to another location after the earthquake and that the ship was overhauled to allow for the transportation of troops.