MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Through the early years of WWII, the Americas largely remained neutral from the conflicts raging in Europe and Asia. This neutrality allowed German U-boats to patrol and attack merchant ships with little to no opposition in the South and Western Atlantic.
This problem was identified, and U.S. 4th Fleet was established March 15, 1943 to combat the Axis presence in the South Atlantic. As one of the original numbered fleets, their mission was to protect the U.S. and allies against German and Axis raiders, blockade runners and German U-boats.
During WWII, U.S. 4th Fleet was commanded by two 3-star admirals, Vice Admirals Jonas Ingram and William Monroe, who used their expertise to successfully employ naval and aviation assets, contributing to the War effort.
In total, forces deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet successfully sank 18 U-boats and 1 Italian submarine, along with sinking or stopping an uncounted number of Axis blockade runners.
U.S. 4th Fleet worked hand-in-hand with Brazil throughout their operations in the South Atlantic utilizing military bases along the Atlantic Ocean, with their primary base located in Recife.
Three years after its establishment, Apr. 15, 1945, U.S. 4th Fleet was renamed Task Force 27, thus dissolving the numbered fleet. However, just under a year later, U.S. 4th Reserve Fleet was reactivated. The reactivation as a reserve fleet was purposed to stand ready should the war reignite. The reserve fleet status held strong until Jan. 1, 1947 when U.S. 4th Reserve Fleet was dissolved once more.
On May 5th, 2008, U.S. 4th Fleet was reestablished by then Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead. As the component command to U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), U.S. 4th Fleet's mission is to direct U.S. forces operating in the USSOUTHCOM area of operations.
"Reestablishing the 4th Fleet recognizes the immense importance of maritime security in the southern part of the Western Hemisphere and signals our support and interest in the civil and military maritime services in Central and South America," said Roughead. "Our Maritime Strategy raises the importance of working with international partners as the basis of global maritime security. This change increases our emphasis in the region on employing naval forces to build confidence and trust among nations through collective maritime security efforts that focus on common threats and mutual interests."
U.S. 4th Fleet continuously reaches back to its roots in cooperating with partner nations by participating in multilateral exercises and deployments each year. Such exercises include Unitas, Panamax, Southern Seas, Continuing Promise and Southern Partnership Station.
These exercises focus on a wide array of maritime objectives, but the common theme throughout all of them is fostering and strengthening our relationships with partner nations, working together and building upon the foundation and legacy that was started in 1943.
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For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.