The United States Navy’s Second Fleet will resume its post-World War II responsibilities along the Eastern Coast and North Atlantic Ocean. Part of those responsibilities is to support NATO, which is concerned about Russia’s growing naval presence in the Baltic Sea, Arctic Ocean, and Northern Atlantic Ocean.
The Second Fleet will once again operate out of the Norfolk, Virginia naval base and oversee the operations of assigned ships and aircraft in an effort to prepare for potential military engagement in the Atlantic. Prior to its merging with the U.S. Fleet Forces in 2011, the Second Fleet trained U.S. enlisted sailors, certified warships, conducted exercises with other navies and provided disaster relief within its designated areas.
A U.S. Defense Department statement, reported by The Virginian-Pilot, explained that the reemergence of the Second Fleet “will strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defense posture.” Adm. John Richardson echoed the Defense Department’s sentiment by pointing out that dynamic changes in the power competition between the U.S., Russia, and China require a “dynamic response.”
Despite disagreements between NATO and the U.S., the international organization is considering Norfolk, Virginia as the location of its new Joint Force Command for the Atlantic. NATO’s Allied Command Transformation is already established there, and along with the newly reinstated Second Fleet, many believe that Norfolk would be a strategic location for the alliance’s latest initiative.
BBC News also shared some of Adm. Richardson’s commentary regarding global power competition and re-establishing the Second Fleet. While making an announcement on the USS, George H.W. Bush this past Friday, he stated the following:
Our National Defense Strategy makes clear that we’re back in an era of great power competition as the security environment continues to grow more challenging and complex. That’s why today, we’re standing up Second Fleet to address these changes, particularly in the north Atlantic.
Since our Navy is reinstating the Second Fleet as a means to counter any possible threat from Russia or China, it would appear that there is a new Cold War Era in effect. Let’s hope that this one ends as peacefully as the last, but without taking four decades to do so.