U.S. Navy resurrects Second Fleet in face of growing challenge from Russia in the Atlantic

U.S. Navy resurrects Second Fleet in face of growing challenge from Russia in the Atlantic
Aegis destroyer USS Mason (DDG-87), homeported in Norfolk, VA, in March 2016 launching an SM-2 missile during an exercise. (Image: USN via USNI blog)

The U.S. Navy is bringing back a formerly disbanded Atlantic fleet to counter a growing threat from Russia and other international powers, military officials said Friday.

Adm. John Richardson, head of naval operations, announced the resurrection of the Second Fleet during a change of command ceremony in Norfolk, Va., the home of the Navy’s Fleet Forces command.

The reconstituted fleet will have “operational and administrative authorities” over assigned ships, aircraft and landing forces on the East Coast and north Atlantic Ocean.

“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,” Richardson said, referring to President Donald Trump’s new strategic document identifying Russia and China as America’s primary geopolitical and military threats.

“That’s why today, we’re standing up Second Fleet to address these changes, particularly in the north Atlantic,” he added.

Originally formed after WWII, the Second Fleet was shut down in 2011 to save money, and its responsibilities were merged into Fleet Forces command. At the time, the U.S. military was focused on global anti-terrorism missions and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Standing up the Second Fleet once again is part of a broader strategic shift away from counter-terror and counter-insurgency campaigns and toward a world of great power competition. Trump’s national security strategy specifically mentions Russia, China, North Korea and Iran and calls for “sustained investment to restore readiness and modernize our military” for a changing threat environment.

“It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model — gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions,” the document states.

The new Second Fleet will be based at Norfolk — its previous home. The headquarters staff will start with 15 personnel, eventually increasing to more than 200, the BBC reported.

U.S. defense officials have also offered up Norfolk as the future home of the proposed NATO Joint Force Command for the Atlantic. The Western alliance is expected to make a decision on the location of the new command this summer.

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This report, by Will Racke, was cross posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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