Australia was founded as a convict colony when the prison hulks in the Thames could take it no more. Decommission ships of the RN, no longer ruling the waves, were anchored and filled to the gunnels with those who sought to waive the rules. Vile savages guilty of stealing a loaf of bread and other crimes, as the myth goes.
As with British defense spending and forced force structure downsizing, so with a means of detaining the vile of today for the mighty USN it would seem.
The USS Boxer appears to be the first modern American example. The boys over at DR have got the contemporary story and raise some good questions about the practice. See