The United States Navy is reviving its Second Fleet, the fleet responsible for the North Atlantic Ocean, almost seven years after disbanding it. The fleet was split as a result of cost-saving and restructuring measures.
It is being re-constituted as tension between the U.S. and Russia, as well as China, have ratcheted up in recent years.
“Our National Defense Strategy makes clear that we’re back in an era of great power competition as the security environment continues to grow more challenging and complex,” Chief of U.S. Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said.
“Second Fleet will exercise operational and administrative authorities over assigned ships, aircraft and landing forces on the East Coast and northern Atlantic Ocean,” he added.
The fleet’s command will be based in Norfolk, VA, and will number fifteen initially, but will grow to over 200. The decisions on what and how many assets it will include have not yet been made.
The fleet was disbanded in 2011 as the U.S. shifted its focus to non-state terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and eventually ISIS. Since then, traditional powers such as Russia and China have grown more assertive in theatres around the globe.
Tensions with Russia specifically have grown as the country has taken a more aggressive role in places like Ukraine and Syria. Russia has also increased its naval patrols in places like the Baltic Sea, the North Atlantic and the Arctic, according to NATO officials.
In speaking about the new strategy, Secretary of Defense James Mattis called Russia and China “revisionist powers” that “seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models.”
The fleet is a “dynamic response to a dynamic environment,” Richardson said. “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.
“That’s why today, we’re standing up Second Fleet to address these changes, particularly in the north Atlantic.”
Photo by U.S. Navy