The United States Fleet Forces Command (USFLTFORCOM) of the United States Navy is the part of the Navy responsible for operations in around the Atlantic Ocean. Originally formed as United States Atlantic Fleet (USLANTFLT) in 1906, it has been an integral part of the defense of the United States of America for most of the 20th Century. In 2002, the Fleet comprised over 118,000 sailors and Marines serving in 186 ships and 1,300 aircraft, with an area of responsibility ranging over the Atlantic Ocean from the North Pole to the South Pole, the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the waters of the Pacific Ocean along the coasts of Central and South America (as far west as the Galapagos Islands). Its operational fleet (i.e. the collection of fighting ships) is the 2nd Fleet.
Roosevelt Administration and the Spanish-American War[edit | edit source]
The Atlantic Fleet was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, along with the Pacific Fleet, as protection for new bases in the Caribbean acquired as a result of the Spanish-American War. The Fleet was a combination of the North Atlantic Squadron and the South Atlantic Squadron.
The first commander of the fleet was Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans, who hoisted his flag in the battleship Maine (BB-10) on 1 January 1906. The following year, he took his 16 battleships, now dubbed the Great White Fleet, on a round-the-world cruise that lasted until 1909, a goodwill tour that also served the purpose of advertising the United States' naval strength and reach to all other nations of the globe.
World War II[edit | edit source]
In 1 February 1941, the Atlantic Fleet was resurrected. Along with the Pacific Fleet and Asiatic Fleet, the fleet was to be under the command of a full Admiral, which jumped the fleet's commander Ernest J. King from a two-star to a four-star. King's flagship was the Texas (BB-35).
Subsequently, the headquarters was in a rather odd assortment of ships; the Augusta (CA-31), then the old wooden ship Constellation, Vixen (PG-53), and then Pocono (AGC-16). In 1948, the HQ moved into the former naval hospital at Norfolk, Virginia, and has remained there ever since.
Cold War[edit | edit source]
Between 1947 and 1985, the fleet command was mixed in with the United States Atlantic Command. The Commander-in-Chief Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT) was traditionally a Navy four-star admiral who also then held the positions of Commander-in-Chief US Atlantic Command (CINCLANT) and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT). But after a major reorganization of the U.S. armed forces structure following the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1985, CINCLANFLT was separated from the two other billets. The admiral commanding the Atlantic Fleet for a time being was designated as the Deputy Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Command until 1986.
Present[edit | edit source]
On October 1, 2001, the Chief of Naval Operations designated Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT) as concurrent Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (COMUSFLTFORCOM). This turned the command a two-hat command.
On October 24, 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld directed that the title of "Commander in Chief" be reserved solely for the President of the United States. In a message to Naval Commanders in Chief, the Chief of Naval Operations directed a change of title to that of "Commander." Accordingly, the title of Commander in Chief was discontinued and the title of Commander, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMLANTFLT) was established. The title of Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet was in continuous use from February 1941 through October 2002.
On May 23, 2006, the Chief of Naval Operations renamed COMLANTFLT to Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (COMUSFLTFORCOM), ordered to carry out the missions currently performed by COMFLTFORCOM and serve as primary advocate for fleet personnel, training, requirements, maintenance, and operational issues, reporting administratively directly to the CNO as an Echelon 2 command. 
The unit's command mission is to organize, man, train, and equip Naval Forces for assignment to Combatant Commanders; Deter, detect, and defend against homeland maritime threats; Articulate Fleet warfighting and readiness requirements to the Chief of Naval Operations. 
Composition[edit | edit source]
- Second Fleet
- Naval Surface Force, Atlantic Fleet
- Naval Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet
- Naval Air Force, Atlantic Fleet
- Commander, US Atlantic Fleet Maritime Homeland Defence (Coast Guard Atlantic Area)
Notes[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
- Fleet Forces Command
- More detail about the Atlantic Fleet and its components
- The history section of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command website
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