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United States Fifth Fleet: Wikis


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Fifth Fleet
Fifth Fleet emblem
Active 26 April 1944–January 1947
1 July 1995–Present
Country United States of America
Branch United States Navy
Type Fleet
Role Direct Fleet Operations
Part of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM)
Garrison/HQ Naval Support Activity Bahrain
Vice Admiral William E. Gortney
Admiral Raymond A. Spruance

The Fifth Fleet of the United States Navy is responsible for naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and coast off East Africa as far south as Kenya. It shares a commander and headquarters with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT). The commander of the 5th Fleet is currently (2008) Vice Admiral William E. Gortney.[1] Fifth Fleet/NAVCENT is a component command of, and reports to, CENTCOM.



The 5th Fleet was initially established 26 April 1944 from Central Pacific Force, commanded by Admiral Raymond Spruance and disbanded after the war. The ships of the Fifth Fleet also formed the basis of the Third Fleet, which was the designation of the "Big Blue Fleet" when under the command of Admiral William Halsey. Spruance and Halsey would alternate command of the fleet for major operations, allowing the other admiral and his staff time to prepare for the subsequent one. A secondary benefit was confusing the Japanese into thinking that they were actually two separate fleets as the fleet designation flipped back and forth. Following the end of World War II, the 5th Fleet was inactivated as an operational command echelon within the U.S. Navy.

Prior to the first Gulf War in 1990-1991, U.S. naval operations in the Persian Gulf region were directed by the Commander, Middle Eastern Force (COMMIDEASTFOR). Since this organization was considered insufficiently equipped to manage large scale combat operations during the Gulf War, the U.S. Seventh Fleet, normally based in Japan, was given the temporary task of managing the force during the period. However no numbered fleet existed permanently within the USCENTCOM area of responsibility. By July 1995, a new numbered fleet was deemed necessary.[2] After a 48-year hiatus, the U.S. 5th Fleet was reactivated, replacing COMMIDEASTFOR, and it now directs operations in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and Arabian Sea. Its headquarters are at NSA Bahrain located in Manama, Bahrain.

For the early years of its existence, its forces normally consisted of an Aircraft Carrier Battle Group (CVBG), an Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), surface combatants, submarines, maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, and logistics ships. However, with the War on Terrorism, the naval strategy of the U.S. has changed. The regular deployments of the Cold War are now a thing of the past. Consequently, the policy of always maintaining a certain number of ships in various parts of the world is also over. However, its usual configuration now includes a Carrier Strike Group, Amphibious Ready Group or Expeditionary Strike Group, and other ships and aircraft with almost 15,000 people serving afloat and 1,000 support personnel ashore.[3]

The forces of the 5th Fleet peaked in early 2003, when five USN aircraft carriers (CV and CVNs), six USN amphibious assault ships known as LHAs and LHDs and their embarked USMC air ground combat elements, their escorting and supply vessels, and over 30 Royal Navy vessels were under its command. In the aftermath of the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, the very large force of ships was quickly drawn down. Until and unless further very serious tensions occur in the area, forces are likely to remain at a lower level than has been the case in recent years.



Coalition Forces Maritime Component Command

Together with Naval Forces Central Command, Fifth Fleet oversees five naval task forces monitoring maritime activity:

  • Combined Task Force 158 in the North Persian Gulf that protects the Iraqi oil terminals of AAOT and KBOT;
  • Combined Task Force 150 that patrols from Hormuz, halfway across the Arabia Sea, South as far as the Seychelles, through the Gulf of Aden, up through the strait between Djibouti and Yemen known as the Bab Al Mandeb and into the Red Sea and, finally, around the Horn of Africa;
  • Combined Task Force 152 patrols the Persian Gulf from the northern end where area of responsibility of CTF 158 ends and down to the Strait of Hormuz between Oman and Iran where the area of responsibility for CTF 150 begins;
  • CTF 151 patrols mostly the same area as CTF 150 but is primarily focused on deterring and disrupting Somali pirate attack on leisure boats and commercial shipping;
  • CTF 52 (as above) patrols the same area as CTF 152 but is focused on countermining/demining activity.[8]


  1. ^ Vice Admiral William E. Gortney
  2. ^ Barbara Starr, 'US Fifth Fleet reborn for active duty in the Persian Gulf, Jane's Defence Weekly, 27 May 1995, p.11
  3. ^, Fifth Fleet
  4. ^
  5. ^ NAVCENT/Fifth Fleet Public Affairs, CTF-56 Fills Multiple Roles in Theatre, January 25, 2009. Previously SeaBee or ashore security force (CTF 59, Coalition Forces Conduct Crisis Response Exercise)
  6. ^ U.S. Navy, MCPON Visits Sailors in Afghanistan, 11/23/2006
  7. ^ Combined Task Force 59 Welcomes New Commander
  8. ^ NAVCENT/Fifth Fleet Public Affairs, Commander Task Force 52 Established, January 20, 2009

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