By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alan Gragg, Naval Forces Southern
Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead announced today the reestablishment of U.S. 4th Fleet and assigned Rear Adm. Joseph D. Kernan, currently serving as Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, as its first commander.
4th Fleet will be 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 and the surrounding waters.
Located in , , and dual-hatted with Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO), 4th Fleet reestablishment addresses the increased role of maritime forces in the SOUTHCOM area of focus, and demonstrates 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 ," 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."
4th Fleet was original established in 1943 as one of the original numbered fleets, and was given a specific mission. During World War II, the needed a command in charge of protecting against raiders, blockade runners and enemy submarines in the . 4th Fleet was disestablished in 1950 when 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, 4th Fleet will not involve an increase in forces assigned in Mayport.
"This is a significant change and presents us the opportunity to garner the right resources for the missions we run for Southern Command," said Rear Adm. James W. Stevenson Jr., Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO). "As a numbered fleet, we will be in a better position to ensure the Combatant Commander has the right assets available when needed."
4th Fleet will retain responsibility as COMUSNAVSO, the Navy component command for SOUTHCOM. Its mission is to direct naval forces operating in the , Central and South American regions and interact with partner nation navies within the maritime environment. Various operations include counter-illicit trafficking, Theater Security Cooperation, military-to-military interaction and bilateral and multinational training.