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United States Seventh Fleet
US Seventh Fleet.png
Seventh Fleet
Active 1943–Present
Country United States
Branch United States Navy
Type Fleet
Role Direct Fleet Operations
Part of United States Pacific Fleet
Commanders
Current
commander
Vice Admiral John M. Bird
Notable
commanders
Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid
USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), flagship, U.S. Seventh Fleet

The Seventh Fleet is the United States Navy's permanent forward projection force based in Yokosuka, Japan, with units positioned near South Korea and Japan. It is a component fleet force under the United States Pacific Fleet. At present it is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with 50–60 ships, 350 aircraft and 60,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel. With the support of its Task Force Commanders, it has three major assignments:

  • Joint Task Force command in a natural disaster or joint military operation,
  • Operational command of all naval forces in the region, and
  • Defense of the Korean Peninsula.

Contents

History

The Seventh Fleet was formed on 15 March 1943 in Brisbane, Australia, during World War II, commanded by Admiral Arthur S. "Chips" Carpender. It served in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) under General Douglas MacArthur, and the Seventh Fleet commander also served as commander of Allied naval forces in the SWPA.

USS Princeton (CVL-23) of the 3rd Fleet on fire east of Luzon at the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Most of the ships of the Royal Australian Navy were also part of the fleet during 1943–45. The Seventh Fleet formed a large part of the Allied forces at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, October 1944, which is often said to have been the largest naval battle in history. After the end of the war, the 7th Fleet relocated to Japan.

After the war, on 1 January 1947, the Fleet's name was changed to Naval Forces Western Pacific. On 19 August 1949, just prior to the outbreak of the Korean War, the force was designated as United States Seventh Task Fleet. On 11 February 1950 the force assumed the name United States Seventh Fleet, which it holds today.[1]

Seventh Fleet units participated in every major operation of the Korean War. The first Navy jet aircraft used in combat was launched from a Task Force 77 aircraft carrier on 3 July 1950. The landings at Inchon, Korea were conducted by Seventh Fleet amphibious ships. The battleships Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri and Wisconsin all served as flagships for Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet during the Korean War.

Over the next decade the Seventh Fleet responded to numerous crisis situations including contingency operations conducted in Laos in 1959 and Thailand in 1962.

Military humor: Unofficial insignia of the "Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club" - aka US 7th Fleet.

During the Vietnam War, Seventh Fleet engaged in combat operations against enemy forces through attack carrier air strikes, naval gunfire support, amphibious operations, patrol and reconnaissance operations and mine warfare. After the 1973 cease-fire, the Fleet conducted mine countermeasure operations in the coastal waterways of North Vietnam. Two years later, ships and aircraft of the Fleet evacuated thousands of U.S. citizens and refugees from South Vietnam and Cambodia as those countries fell to opposing forces. Between 1950 and 1970, the United States Seventh Fleet was also known by the tongue-in-cheek nickname "Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club". Most of the fleet's operations were conducted from the Tonkin Gulf at the time. The badge was unofficial but it quickly became very popular.[2]

A carrier task force of the Seventh Fleet, Task Force 74, made a U.S. incursion into the Bay of Bengal at the height of the Bangladesh Liberation War in December 1971.[3] Task Force 74 comprised the nuclear-armed carrier Enterprise; the amphibious assault carrier Tripoli; the destroyers Decatur, McKean, and Orleck; the guided-missile escorts Waddell, King, and Parsons; the nuclear-powered attack submarine Gurnard; and supply ship Wichita. On 15 December, a day before the surrender of Pakistan, the task force entered the Bay of Bengal, at a distance of some 1,760 km from Dhaka.

Since Vietnam, the Seventh Fleet has participated in a joint/combined exercise called Team Spirit, conducted with the Republic of Korea armed forces. With capability to respond to any contingency, Fleet operations are credited with maintaining security during the Asian Games of 1986 and the Seoul Olympics of 1988. During 1989, Seventh Fleet units participated in a variety of exercises called PACEX, the largest peacetime exercises since World War II.

In response to the 2 August 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, President George H. W. Bush ordered Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet to assume additional responsibilities as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (COMUSNAVCENT). The Fleet Commander departed Yokosuka, Japan immediately, heading for the Persian Gulf, and joined the remainder of his staff aboard the flagship Blue Ridge on 1 September 1990. During Operation Desert Shield/Storm, COMUSNAVCENT exercised command and control of the largest US Navy armada since World War II. At the peak of combat operations, over 130 US Navy ships joined more than 50 allied ships from a multi-national force to conduct maritime intercept operations, minesweeping and combat strike operations against enemy forces in Iraq and Kuwait. COMUSNAVCENT included six aircraft carrier battle groups, two battleships, two hospital ships, 31 amphibious assault ships, four minesweeping vessels and numerous combatants in support of allied air and ground forces. After a decisive allied victory in the Persian Gulf War, Commander US Seventh Fleet relinquished control of COMUSNAVCENT to Commander, Middle East Force on 24 April 1991 and returned to Yokosuka, Japan to continue the duties of Commander, US Seventh Fleet.

Following the end of the Cold War, the two major military scenarios in which the Seventh Fleet would be used would be in case of conflict in Korea or a conflict between People's Republic of China and Taiwan (Republic of China) in the Taiwan Strait.

Operations

Of the 50–60 ships typically assigned to Seventh Fleet, 18 operate from U.S. facilities in Japan and Guam. These forward-deployed units represent the heart of Seventh Fleet. The 18 permanently forward-deployed ships of the US 7th Fleet are the centerpieces of American forward presence in Asia. They are 17 steaming days closer to locations in Asia than their counterparts based in the continental United States. It would take three to five times the number of rotationally-based ships in the United States to equal the same presence and crisis response capability as these 18 forward deployed ships. On any given day, about 50% of Seventh Fleet forces are deployed at sea throughout the area of responsibility. The Seventh Fleet Command Ship is the USS Blue Ridge, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. In 2004, Blue Ridge entered dry dock and command responsibility was transferred temporarily to USS Coronado. Blue Ridge returned to duty 27 September 2004.

Fleet organization

For operational and administrative purposes the United States Seventh Fleet, as with other numbered fleets, is organized into several specialized task forces.

USS George Washington (CVN-73), center of Task Force 70 of the U.S. Seventh Fleet
  • Task Force 71 — TF 71 includes all Naval Special Warfare (NSW) units and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Units (EODMU) assigned to 7th Fleet. It is based in Guam. Task Force 71 was operated the Search and Rescue/Salvage Operations for Korean Air Lines Flight 007 shot down by the Soviets off Sakhalin Island on Sept. 1, 1983.
  • Task Force 72 — TF 72 is the Patrol-Reconnaissance Force of the Seventh Fleet. It is mainly composed of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft and maritime airborne surveillance platforms such as P-3 Orion and EP-3 reconnaissance planes operating on land bases. Toward the end of the Korean War, Commander Task Force Seventy-Two transferred his flag to USS Pine Island on 7 March and detachments of VP-42 also left USS Salisbury Sound for that seaplane tender. That same day Task Force Seventy-Two was established as the Formosa Patrol Force under Rear Admiral Williamson in Pine Island.[4]
  • Task Force 73 — 7th Fleet's Logistics Force composed of supply ships and other fleet support vessels.
  • Task Force 74 — TF 74 was the designation used for the Enterprise's battle group in 1971. Today, it is the Fleet Submarine Force responsible for planning and coordinating submarine operations within 7th Fleet's area of operations.
  • Task Force 75 — Designation of the Surface Combatant Force assigned to Seventh Fleet responsible for the cruisers and destroyers that are not assigned as escorts to aircraft carriers.
  • Task Force 77 — 7th Fleet Mine Warfare Force composed of mine countermeasure, mine hunter, and mine control ships as well as mine countermeasure helicopters (MH-53). This task force is only activated during specific combat operations and is filled by the Commander of Mine Warfare Command.
  • Task Force 79 — The Marine expeditionary unit or Landing Force assigned to the fleet, consisting of at least a reinforced Marine battalion and its equipment. This unit is separate from the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) normally embarked in USS Essex Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG). Marine units serving in 7th Fleet are normally drawn from III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) based in Okinawa, Japan.

Forward-deployed Seventh Fleet ships

U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan

USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN-705), a forward deployed nuclear submarine of the 7th Fleet

U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan

Apra Harbor, Guam

Fleet Commanders

    • Vice Adm. Arthur S. Carpender   (15 March 1943 – 26 November 1943)
    • Vice Adm. Thomas C. Kinkaid (26 November 1943 – 20 November 1945)
    • Vice Adm. Daniel E. Barbey (20 November 1945 – 2 October 1946)
    • Vice Adm. Charles M. Cooke, Jr. (2 October 1946 – 28 February 1948)
    • Vice Adm. Oscar C. Badger II (28 February 1948 – 28 August 1949)
    • Vice Adm. Russell S. Berkey (28 August 1949 – 5 April 1950)
    • Rear Adm. Walter. F. Boone (5 April 1950 – 20 May 1950)
    • Vice Adm. Arthur D. Struble (20 May 1950 – 28 March 1951)
    • Vice Adm. Harold. M. Martin (28 March 1951 – 3 March 1952)
    • Vice Adm. Robert P. Briscoe (3 March 1952 – 20 May 1952)
    • Vice Adm. Joseph. J. Clark (20 May 1952 – 1 December 1953)
    • Vice Adm. Alfred M. Pride (1 December 1953 – 9 December 1955)
    • Vice Adm. Stuart H. Ingersoll (19 December 1955 – 28 January 1957)
    • Vice Adm. Wallace M. Beakley (28 January 1957 – 30 September 1958)
    • Vice Adm. Frederick N. Kivette (30 September 1958 – 7 March 1960)
    • Vice Adm. Charles D. Griffin (7 March 1960 – 28 October 1961)
    • Vice Adm. William A. Schoech (28 October 1961 – 13 October 1962)
    • Vice Adm. Thomas H. Moorer (13 October 1962 – 15 June 1964)
    • Vice Adm. Roy L. Johnson (15 June 1964 – 1 March 1965)
    • Vice Adm. Paul P. Blackburn (1 March 1965 – 9 October 1965)
    • Rear Adm. Joseph W. Williams, Jr. (9 October 1965 – 13 December 1965)
    • Vice Adm. John J. Hyland (13 December 1965 – 6 November 1967)
    • Vice Adm. William F. Bringle (6 November 1967 – 10 March 1970)
    • Vice Adm. Maurice F. Weisner (10 March 1970 – 18 June 1971)
    • Vice Adm. William P. Mack (18 June 1971 – 23 May 1972)
    • Vice Adm. James L. Holloway III (23 May 1972 – 28 July 1973)
    • Vice Adm. George P. Steele (28 July 1973 – 14 June 1975)
    • Vice Adm. Thomas B. Hayward (14 June 1975 – 24 July 1976)
    • Vice Adm. Robert B. Baldwin (24 July 1976 – 31 May 1978)
    • Vice Adm. Sylvester Robert Foley, Jr. (31 May 1978 – 14 February 1980)
    • Vice Adm. Carlisle A.H. Trost (14 February 1980 – 15 September 1981)
    • Vice Adm. M. Staser Holcomb (15 September 1981 – 9 May 1983)
    • Vice Adm. James R. Hogg (9 May 1983 – 4 March 1985)
    • Vice Adm. Paul F. McCarthy, Jr. (4 March 1985 – 9 December 1986)
    • Vice Adm. Paul D. Miller (9 December 1986 – 21 October 1988)
    • Vice Adm. Henry H. Mauz, Jr. (21 October 1988 – 1 December 1990)
    • Vice Adm. Stanley R. Arthur (1 December 1990 – 3 July 1992)
    • Vice Adm. Timothy W. Wright (3 July 1992 – 28 July 1994)
    • Vice Adm. Archie R. Clemins (28 July 1994 – 13 September 1996)
    • Vice Adm. Robert J. Natter (13 September 1996 – 12 August 1998)
    • Vice Adm. Walter F. Doran (12 August 1998 – 12 July 2000)
    • Vice Adm. James W. Metzger (12 July 2000 – 18 July 2002)
    • Vice Adm. Robert F. Willard (18 July 2002 – 6 August 2004)
    • Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert (6 August 2004 – 12 September 2006)
    • Vice Adm. William Douglas Crowder (12 September 2006 – 12 July 2008)
    • Vice Adm. John M. Bird (12 July 2008 – Present)

External links and references


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