U.S. 2nd Fleet Reactivates to Counter Russian Navy

The carrier USS Harry S. Truman under way in the Atlantic, July 2019 (USN)

Published Dec 31, 2019 5:21 PM by The Maritime Executive

 Seven months after reaching initial operational capability, the newly-reactivated U.S. 2nd Fleet achieved full operational capability on December 31.

Since its reestablishment in August 2018, 2nd Fleet commander Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis has led the resurgence of the Navy’s newest numbered fleet, which is tasked with managing the return to great power competition in the Atlantic theater. Over the last few years, Russian patrols in the North Atlantic have increased to levels last seen during the Cold War, and having a fleet-level command focused on the region helps the Navy to counterbalance this development.

“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,” Adm. Lewis said. “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.”

2nd Fleet exercises authority over assigned ships and assets on the East Coast and in the North Atlantic. It will primarily focus on forward operations and the employment of naval forces in the region, including Arctic operations. It is still subordinate to U.S. Fleet Forces Command, which assimilated the former 2nd Fleet in 2011; Fleet Forces will keep its focus on training, manning and equipping the entirety of the Navy. 

To a smaller extent, 2nd Fleet also works on the final training and certification of forces preparing for operations around the globe. “Our involvement in force generation is limited to the integrated phase – the final stages of the training cycle when our ships are operating at the high-end in aggregate,” Lewis said. 

In June, 2nd Fleet led exercise Baltic Operations on behalf of Naval Forces Europe, marking the first time the fleet operated in the European theater since its reestablishment. As part of its mission to offset Russian capabilities in the region, 2nd Fleet is focused on strengthening ties with allied European forces.