NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- After 65 years of faithful service to the U.S. Navy, the three-star flag of Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet (C2F) was hauled down for the final time during a disestablishment ceremony Sept. 30.
As many of C2F's assets, personnel and responsibilities merge into the new Fleet and Joint Operations organization of Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF), the disestablishment allows the Navy to continue the 2nd Fleet mission while achieving vital cost-savings through a streamlined organizational structure.
Second Fleet traces its origins to the reorganization of the Navy following World War II and the creation of U.S. 8th Fleet March 1, 1946, under the command of Vice. Adm. Marc A. Mitscher. In January 1947, 8th Fleet was renamed Second Task Fleet, and in February 1950, the command was redesignated as U.S. 2nd Fleet, with the primary mission of supporting the newly formed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the forward deployed U.S. 6th Fleet.
Throughout its history, C2F has trained and certified warships and units for deployment, conducted wide-ranging fleet and amphibious exercises with NATO and other foreign navies and provided dozens of humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HA/DR) missions to Central American and Caribbean nations since the first such support to Haiti in 1954.
Specific fleet operations included establishing a quarantine in the Caribbean as ordered by then-President John F. Kennedy during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, rescuing Americans in Grenada during Operation Urgent Fury in October 1983, and training and certifying half the U.S. Fleet for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990-1991.
Following the end of the Cold War and the diminished threat from Russia, C2F stood down its "Striking Fleet Atlantic" role for NATO Feb. 22, 2005.
On May 31, 2006, the Combined Joint Operations from the Sea Centre of Excellence was established as a multinational military body that promotes transformation in Joint Maritime Expeditionary Operations, in support of NATO. In July 2007, C2F expanded its joint, maritime, and combined operational capability by becoming the first three-star standing headquarters amongst all the military services to be certified as joint task force capable.
In recent years, Second Fleet continued to carry out its HA/DR mission throughout its area of operations. C2F ships and personnel provided HA/DR support to the Gulf Coast following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, positioned themselves in advance of a potential tasking during the active 2008 hurricane season, and worked in concert with a myriad of organizations in Haiti after the devastating 7.0 earthquake in 2010. As recently as August 2011, C2F led the way with its sortie of ships from Hampton Roads in preparation for Hurricane Irene, positioning the fleet in advance for any potential HA/DR or Defense Support of Civil Authorities tasking.
"Throughout our 65-year history of U.S. Second Fleet, it has been our Sailors, Marines and their families, our civilians, and contractors that have been the cornerstone to this command's success," said Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet Vice Adm. Daniel P. Holloway.
"Second Fleet has always been ready to answer the call, from providing trained and ready forces for global assignment to humanitarian assistance and disaster response; we've truly been a global force for good."
Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, spoke about the importance of merging the staffs of C2F/USFF and how the merger affects the mission of the Navy.
"So today we begin another chapter - our mission remains the same, our standards remain the same - only our structure has changed," said Harvey. "Our new structure is an operational structure, a command structure, not an administrative one. Our purpose and our focus is on the deckplates and the flight decks - ensuring our Sailors have the tools, training, and time they need to deploy confident in their ability to execute their assigned missions."
As C2F began merging with USFF, Holloway encouraged his staff to keep their focus on communication, collaboration and coordination-accelerated by trust and anchored by teamwork.
"As the sun sets on the Second Fleet staff, it will rise once again on a maritime nation at war. I know that you and your families will continue to meet and overcome the future challenges. I am confident that you will remain combat ready," said Holloway.
For more news from Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c2f/.