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US Navy restructuring revives Atlantic Fleet

USS Enterprise (CVN 65) with Enterprise Carrier Strike Group (CSG) supports efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Pittman/U.S. Navy)
December 04, 2020

As the Russian navy keeps pressing into the Atlantic, the United States is reviving the Atlantic Fleet, renaming and refocusing its Norfolk-based Fleet Forces Command.

The change will have no impact on jobs or revenue in Hampton Roads, Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s readiness panel.

He said Fleet Forces was formed to support joint forces operations in a world “where NATO’s flanks are secure, the Russian Navy is tied to the pier and terrorism is our biggest problem.” But the Russian Navy is ever more active with ever more effective ships and weapons in the Atlantic, he said.

Reviving the Atlantic Fleet by redirecting and renaming Fleet Forces will focus more attention on the Atlantic, and the maritime approaches to the U.S. and its allies, he said.

“The Atlantic Fleet will confront the reassertive Russian navy, which has been deploying closer and closer to the east coast,” he said.

The Norfolk-based Second Fleet and the Jacksonville-based Fourth Fleet, which focuses on the Caribbean and South America, will report to the Atlantic Fleet.

Separately, NATO is setting up its new Joint Force Command Norfolk to boost its focus on the Atlantic.

At the same time, Braithwaite said the Navy would revive its First Fleet, as an expeditionary force focused on the Indo-Pacific region. It with the Seventh Fleet and the west coast-based Third Fleet will report to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The Fifth Fleet, which operates in the Middle East, would continue to report through the U.S. Central Command and the Sixth Fleet, which is based in Naples, would continue to report to the U.S. European Command.

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