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United States operating forces organization consists of nine components: Atlantic Fleet, Pacific Fleet, Naval Forces Central Command, Naval Forces Europe, Naval Network Warfare Command, Navy Reserve, Naval Special Warfare Command, Operational Test and Evaluation Force (OPTEVFOR), and Military Sealift Command.[1]

Fleets in the United States Navy take on the role of force provider; they do not carry out military operations independently, rather they train and maintain naval units that will subsequently be provided to the naval forces component of each Unified Combatant Command. While not widely publicized, groups of ships departing U.S. waters for operational missions gain a Task force type designation, almost always with the Second or Third Fleets. On entry into another numbered fleet's area of responsibility, they are redesignated as a task group from that fleet. For example, a carrier task group departing the Eastern Seaboard for the Mediterranean might start out as Task Group 20.1; on entry into the Mediterranean, it might become ('inchop')[2] Task Group 60.1. The United States Navy has five active numbered fleets, each led by a Vice Admiral. These five fleets are grouped under Fleet Forces Command (the former Atlantic Fleet), Pacific Fleet, Naval Forces Europe, all led by four-star full Admirals, and Naval Forces Central Command, whose commander is 'double-hatted' as Commander Fifth Fleet.

Command Listing

  • Fleet Forces Command
    • Type commands, including Submarine Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Surface Forces Atlantic, and Naval Air Forces Atlantic
    • Second Fleet operates in the Atlantic Ocean from the North to South Pole, from the Eastern United States to Western Europe and Africa, and along both the eastern and western shores of Central and South America. Second Fleet is the sole numbered operational fleet within Fleet Forces Command, providing forces to Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM). In 2005 the dual role of Second Fleet as NATO's Commander Striking Fleet Atlantic, was deactivated with the establishment of Allied Command Transformation, and replaced with the Combined Joint Operations from the Sea/Center of Excellence. [3] Second Fleet is based in Norfolk, Virginia and its flagship is USS Wasp (LHD-1).
  • United States Naval Forces Europe
    • Sixth Fleet is deployed in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea, under the administrative direction of Naval Forces Europe (NAVEUR), and the operational command of European Command. Sixth Fleet is based in Naples, Italy and its flagship is USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20). Sixth Fleet also provides the Mt Whitney as an Afloat Command Platform for Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, a Naples-based Maritime headquarters that serves as a deployable Maritime Component Commander as directed by Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE).
  • Pacific Fleet
    • Type commands, including Submarine Forces Pacific, Surface Force Pacific, and Naval Air Forces Pacific
    • Third Fleet's jurisdiction is the Northern, Southern, and Eastern Pacific Ocean along with the West Coast of the United States. Normally, units assigned to Third Fleet undergo training cruises prior to deployment with either the Fifth Fleet or Seventh Fleet and are not intended for immediate use in battle. Only in the event of general war does Third Fleet participate in active combat operations. Forming part of the Pacific Fleet, Third Fleet is a part of Pacific Command (USPACOM) and is based in San Diego, California.
    • Seventh Fleet, the largest forward-deployed U.S. fleet, operates in the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean, stretching to the Persian Gulf and including much of the east coast of Africa. It forms the fully combat ready part of the Pacific Fleet and provides naval units to the United States Pacific Command. At any given time, Seventh Fleet consists of 40-50 ships operating from bases in South Korea, Japan, and Guam. It is headquartered at Yokosuka, Kanagawa, Japan with USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) as its flagship.
  • Fifth Fleet / U.S. Naval Forces Central Command
    • Fifth Fleet's area of responsibility is the Middle East, including the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, and parts of the Indian Ocean. Consisting of around 25 ships, including a carrier strike group and an expeditionary strike group, Fifth Fleet is effectively fused with Naval Forces Central Command, which is the naval component of the larger Central Command (USCENTCOM). Fifth Fleet is headquartered at Manama, Bahrain.
    • Naval Forces Central Command includes a number of Task Forces which are not part of the Fifth Fleet. These include Combined Task Force 150, carrying out maritime surveillance activities in the Gulf of Oman and around the Horn of Africa, and Task Force 152, covering the southern Persian Gulf with the same role. Both Task Forces report to Commander NAVCENT in his role as Combined Maritime Forces Component Commander.
  • Fourth Fleet / U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command
    • The Fourth Fleet has operational responsibility for U.S. Navy assets assigned from east and west coast fleets to operate in the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area. The Fourth Fleet will conduct varying missions including a range of contingency operations, counter narcoterrorism, and theater security cooperation (TSC) activities. TSC includes military-to-military interaction and bilateral training opportunities as well as humanitarian assistance and in-country partnerships.
    • U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command's (USNAVSO), the Navy component command for USSOUTHCOM, mission is to direct U.S. naval forces operating in the Caribbean, and Central and South American regions and interact with partner nation navies to shape the maritime environment.

Former Numbered Fleets

The First Fleet existed after the Second World War from 1947 at least, but it was redesignated Third Fleet in early 1973.[4] Other fleets, such as the 10th and 12th, were active during World War II, the 12th in European waters as part of United States Naval Forces Europe.

Notes

  1. ^ "Navy Organization - The Operating Forces". Official U.S. Navy Website. Accessed August 6, 2006.
  2. ^ This term is a compound of CHOP, which is short for Change of Operational (Procedure?). A CHOP line is a line at which operational control of forces transfers from one command to another. Sean Maloney thesis, 'To Secure the Command of the Sea,' University of New Brunswick, 1991, p.iii
  3. ^ command_history
  4. ^ The Coast Guard is sometimes believed to act as the First Fleet in wartime; however, the United States has never officially used this reference and it is informal at best. "Numbered Fleets". There was a time in history in which the Navy was disbanded 1790-1798. The only warships protecting the country were Revenue Cutters, the predecessor to the USCG. This is why USCG ships are referred to as Cutters. Federation of American Scientists: Military Analysis Network. Accessed April 8, 2006.
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