With Russian threat intensifying, Navy’s 2nd Fleet re-established in Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. - With growing pressure from China and Russia on the world stage, the U.S. Navy officially re-established the 2nd Fleet in Norfolk Friday.

The ceremony, on-board the USS George H.W. Bush at Naval Station Norfolk, saw Vice Admiral Andrew "Woody" Lewis take command.

“Although deeply consequential, the meaning of this establishment can be summarized simply as a dynamic response to a dynamic security environment — a security environment clearly articulated in the National Defense Strategy,” said Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson.

“We first need to understand this competitive security environment and why it demands every ounce of our tenacity, ingenuity and fighting spirit. Then we can focus on the mission and how best to accomplish it; 2nd Fleet will enhance our capacity to maneuver and fight in the Atlantic, and as a result, help to maintain America’s maritime superiority that will lead to security, influence and prosperity for our nation," he continued.

The 2nd Fleet will have operational and administrative authority over ships, aircraft and forces on the East Coast and the North Atlantic, falling under the operational control of U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

It had been previously disestablished on September 30, 2011. At that time, its focus was largely on training and certifying forces in that the Navy called a "relatively benign security environment in the Atlantic and Europe" at that time.

Since then, the Navy says the "security environment has grown more challenging and complex" in the North Atlantic.

“I am truly honored to lead this fleet. U.S. 2nd Fleet has a storied history, and we will honor that legacy,” said Vice Admiral Lewis.

“However, we will not simply pick up where we left off. We are going to aggressively and quickly build this command into an organization with operational capability. We will challenge our assumptions, recognize biases, learn and adapt from failures so as to innovate in order to build a fleet that is ready to fight. Ready to fight – so we don’t have to.”

The Navy released a list of "six things you need to know about U.S. 2nd Fleet" noted below:

  1. WHY: The dynamic nature of the security environment demands a dynamic response. The Navy is doing this in two ways. The first is by dynamically employing our forces – like USS Harry S. Truman Strike Group – where we are flexing our ability to be operationally unpredictable. The second is the way the Navy is organized to command that employment; this is why we are standing up C2F.

  2. WHAT: C2F has two missions: to train our forces for fleet operations and to execute fleet operations. Standing up C2F will increase our Navy’s competitive mindset and our warfighting lethality. The command will focus on joint, integrated training and operations at the high-end of naval warfare.

  3. HOW: C2F will exercise operational and administrative authorities over assigned ships, aircraft and landing forces on the East Coast and the North Atlantic. Additionally, it will plan and conduct maritime, joint and combined operations, and will train and recommend certification of combat-ready naval forces for maritime employment and operations around the globe. C2F will fall under operational and administrative control of U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) Command. The C2F commander will act as the operational and training fleet commander, which standardizes operational readiness of deployable forces to a single fleet standard.

  4. WHERE: Initially, C2F assets will operate in the same operating area where USFF currently operates – but through war gaming and concept development, the Navy and the joint force will define how 2nd, 4th and 6th Fleets coordinate in both peace and wartimes.

  5. WHO: Our initial staff will form the basis of our future lethality… these individuals have proven their competency and have been chosen because of their warfighting ethos. We will grow as we reach full operational capacity. We will be lean, expeditionary and focused on fleet operations. C2F is made up of more than just the men and women who have orders to the staff here in Norfolk. C2F also includes:

  • Sailors up and down the East Coast, readying and our nation’s ships, aircraft, and submarines for high-end warfare training and operations.
  • Our Marine Corps brothers and sisters. C2F will work closely with II MEF in training and will operate forward with a full Navy and Marine Corps team.
  • Military Sealift Command ships with civilian Merchant Mariners who on a daily basis providing critical on-time logistics, strategic sealift and specialized mission support throughout the Second Fleet area of operation 365 days a year.
  • C2F will regularly work hand in hand with our allies and partners to ensure freedom endures in the Atlantic. We are stronger together.

WHEN: Now. The staff has begun to report to C2F, and is responsible for establishing the command structure and associated missions, functions and tasks. Currently, the staff is planning for joint high-end operational training in early 2019.