Navy to Reactivate Second Fleet as 'Dynamic Response' in Atlantic

U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, left, speaks with Chinese navy officials in July 2016. Richardson said re-establishing the Second Fleet is a "dynamic response to a dynamic environment." (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, left, speaks with Chinese navy officials in July 2016. Richardson said re-establishing the Second Fleet is a "dynamic response to a dynamic environment." (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

NORFOLK -- With an increasingly assertive Russia operating ever farther from its shores, the U.S. Navy said Friday it will re-establish its Second Fleet in Norfolk this summer to focus on high-end warfare in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Navy eliminated the Second Fleet command structure as a cost-saving measure in 2011, leaving the eastern seaboard of the United States and Canada as the only part of the world where naval assets didn't report to a numbered fleet.

But Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said that re-establishing the fleet is a "dynamic response to a dynamic environment" and that any costs associated with setting up a new command structure would be worth it.

"As we've seen this great power competition emerge," Richardson told reporters on board the USS George H.W. Bush in Norfolk, there's probably no more dynamic theater of operations than the Atlantic Ocean.

It wasn't immediately clear how many people would be part of the Second Fleet command structure or what the rank of the person who will leads it will be. But Richardson made clear the focus will be on projecting force.

"This one will be high-end, blue-water warfare using major elements of maritime power," he said.

Richardson was in Norfolk for a change of command ceremony for U.S. Fleet Forces Command. When the Second Fleet was eliminated, its functions were absorbed by Fleet Forces.

Adm. Phil Davidson is leaving Fleet Forces to take over U.S. Pacific Command. Adm. Chris Grady, who formerly led the Europe-based Sixth Fleet, took over Fleet Forces from Davidson.

Bringing the Second Fleet back to life will free up Fleet Forces to focus on such bigger-picture issues as manning, training and equipping the entire fleet, which took on increased scrutiny in the wake of two deadly collisions involving U.S. warships in Asia. Davidson led the Navy's comprehensive review of those incidents, which called for restructuring how the Navy operates.

Fleet Forces is responsible for manning, training and equipping more than 125 ships, 1,000 aircraft and 103,000 active-duty service members and government employees to provide forces to numbered fleets and combatant commanders around the globe, according to the Navy.

The Second Fleet's area of responsibility will extend to about halfway across the Atlantic Ocean. The Navy's Sixth Fleet oversees operations in Europe and Africa, and the Fourth Fleet oversees forces in Central and South America.

For decades, the Second Fleet trained and certified ships and crews for deployment, conducted wide-ranging fleet and amphibious exercises with NATO and other foreign navies, and provided dozens of humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions to Central American and Caribbean nations, according to the Navy.

The Second Fleet also oversaw the blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, rescued Americans in Grenada during Operation Urgent Fury in October 1983, and trained and certified half the U.S. fleet for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990-1991, the Navy said.

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This article is written by Brock Vergakis from The Virginian-Pilot and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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