WASHINGTON — The newly reinstated Norfolk, Virginia-based 2nd Fleet, which was opened for business in 2018, is now fully operational, the U.S. Navy announced Dec. 31.
The fleet will oversee and control operations in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, as well has having a limited role in training and certification of East Coast-based forces deploying around the globe, the release said. The declaration of “full operational capability” certifies that 2nd Fleet’s command-and-control infrastructure is capable of running its assigned operations.
“Within an increasingly complex global security environment, our allies and competitors alike are well aware that many of the world’s most active shipping lanes lie within the North Atlantic,” Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, who heads the fleet, said in the release.
“Combined with the opening of waterways in the Arctic, this competitive space will only grow, and 2nd Fleet’s devotion to the development and employment of capable forces will ensure that our nation is both present and ready to fight in the region if and when called upon,” Lewis added.
Second Fleet will lead the final, integrated phase of training for ships deploying from the East Coast, which runs high-end exercises to ensure strike groups and task forces can work well together.
When the Navy stood up the fleet last year, it cited Russia as the primary concern for which the new force is to address.
“This is a dynamic response to the dynamic security environment,” then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said in May 2018. “So as we’ve seen this great power competition emerge, the Atlantic Ocean is as dynamic a theater as any and particular[ly] the North Atlantic; so as we consider high-end naval warfare, fighting in the Atlantic, that will be the 2nd Fleet’s responsibility.”
Since it stood up, 2nd Fleet was tasked with running this year’s Baltic Operations exercise on behalf of Naval Forces Europe. In that capacity, it stood up an expeditionary headquarters in Keflavik, Iceland, which has seen an increased American presence since the reemergence of Russian submarine activity in the region.
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.