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In Era of Resurgent Russia, Navy Reactivates Second Fleet

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson announced the reactivation of U.S. Second Fleet during a change of command ceremony for U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF) in Norfolk, Virginia, May 4, according to a Navy news release.

The Second Fleet is to be established July 1, 2018, and will “exercise operational and administrative authorities over assigned ships, aircraft and landing forces on the East Coast and northern Atlantic Ocean. Additionally, it will plan and conduct maritime, joint, and combined operations and will train, certify and provide maritime forces to respond to global contingencies,” according to the release. The commander of the 2nd fleet will report to USFF.

It was disestablished in 2011, with many of its personnel, assets and responsibilities merged into USFF. The last several years, however, have seen the resurgence of a belligerent Russia, and the apparent need to bolster European and U.S. defenses.

Second Fleet was originally established following World War II in order to protect Europe from the Russian threat and to support the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Its historic area of operations and responsibility covered the East Coast and fully half of the Atlantic Ocean, from the North Pole down to the Caribbean.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Second Fleet began to be thought unnecessary in the face of a vastly diminished Russian threat. It was disestablished in 2011, with many of its personnel, assets and responsibilities merged into USFF. The last several years, however, have seen the resurgence of a belligerent Russia, and the apparent need to bolster European and U.S. defenses.

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