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Reborn 2nd Fleet will monitor the Atlantic as Russia’s patrols increase

The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) departs Cartagena, Spain. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Billy Ho/U.S. Navy)

The U.S. 2nd Fleet was reborn during a ceremony aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush on Friday, as part of a move to monitor increased Russian activity in the north Atlantic Ocean.

Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis took command of 2nd Fleet, which will be a scaled-down version of the original fleet that was decommissioned in 2011 and absorbed into Fleet Forces Command to cut costs.

Navy officials announced plans in May to revive the fleet and create a joint force command in Norfolk, Va., to respond to Russia’s increasing movements in the Atlantic Ocean.

Restoring 2nd Fleet is part of the new national defense strategy, which puts more focus on near-peer adversaries and less on terrorism.

“Our sea control, our power projection — two vital elements of our national security — are being challenged by resurgent powers, namely Russia and China,” Adm. Christopher Grady, Fleet Forces commander, said at the ceremony. “We as a Navy — as a nation — have not had to confront such peer competitors since the Cold War ended nearly three decades ago.”

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The fleet will operate on the East Coast and as far north as Greenland.

The 2nd Fleet will exercise operational and administrative authority over ships, aircraft and landing forces on the East Coast and in the northern Atlantic. Some details have yet to be worked out, such as how far east the fleet’s ships will patrol and how much of the ocean will remain in 6th Fleet’s area of operations.

How many personnel and ships the fleet will have also remains unclear.

By the time 2nd Fleet was deactivated, it was mostly aiding humanitarian efforts and assisting with counternarcotics missions with 4th Fleet.

Then Russia became more active in the north Atlantic, especially with submarines, creating greater competition that required a response, Adm. James Foggo, commander of Naval Forces Europe and Africa, told Stars and Stripes earlier this year.

Lewis, who will head the fleet, has held leadership posts while deployed and at the Pentagon.

His command tours include Carrier Strike Group 12 and several fighter squadrons. He has flown in more than 100 combat missions, including in Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

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He was battle director at the air operations center in Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, and director of the maritime operations center at Naval Forces Central Command.

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© 2018 the Stars and Stripes

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