Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead announced in April the reestablishment of U.S. 4th Fleet and assigned Rear Adm. Joseph D. Kernan, who was serving as Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, as its first commander.
U.S. 4th Fleet is responsible for U.S. Navy ships, aircraft and submarines operating in the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) area of focus, which encompasses the Caribbean, and Central and South America and the surrounding waters.
Located in Mayport, Fla., and dual-hatted with Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO), U.S. 4th Fleet's reestablishment addresses the increased role of maritime forces in the SOUTHCOM area of focus and demonstrates the U.S. commitment to regional partners.
"Reconstituting the Fourth Fleet recognizes the immense importance of maritime security in the southern part of the Western Hemisphere and sends a strong signal to all the civil and military maritime services in Central and Latin America," said Roughead. "Aligning the Fourth Fleet along with our other numbered fleets and providing the capabilities and personnel are a logical execution of our new Maritime Strategy."
U.S. 4th Fleet, established in 1943 as one of the original numbered fleets, was given a specific mission. During World War II, the U.S. needed a command in charge of protecting against raiders, blockade runners and enemy submarines in the South Atlantic. U.S. 4th Fleet was disestablished in 1950 when U.S. 2nd Fleet took over its responsibilities.
Initially, the new 4th Fleet will be headquartered with COMUSNAVSO and take advantage of the existing infrastructure, communications support and personnel already in place in Mayport. As a result, U.S. 4th Fleet will not involve an increase in forces assigned in Mayport.
U.S. 4th Fleet will retain responsibility as COMUSNAVSO, the Navy component command for SOUTHCOM. Its mission is to direct U.S. naval forces operating in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions and interact with partner nation navies within the maritime environment. Various operations include counterillicit trafficking, theater security cooperation, military-to-military interaction and bilateral and multinational training.
Rear Adm. Joseph Kernan assumed command of U.S. 4th Fleet in a ceremony June 21, 2008, on Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, Calif.
For more information, go to U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command's Web site at www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.
– Consolidated from stories posted on Navy.mil