The US officially re-launched the US Navy’s Cold War-era Second Fleet Friday, a move that comes amid renewed concern over the threat posed by Russia.
“US Second Fleet has a storied history, and we will honor that legacy,” Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis, who took command of the fleet Friday, said during a ceremony marking the fleet’s re-launch in Norfolk, Virginia.
Lewis said his goal was to “build a fleet that is ready to fight. Ready to fight so we don’t have to.”
“Second Fleet will enhance our capacity to maneuver and fight in the Atlantic, and as a result, help to maintain America’s maritime superiority that will lead to security, influence, and prosperity for our nation,” Adm. Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations, said at the relaunch ceremony.
The fleet was originally established in the earliest days of the Cold War and was primarily tasked with supporting NATO in its stand-off with the Soviet Union.
It participated in some of that geopolitical conflict’s most defining moments including the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis when Second Fleet ships helped enforce the quarantine that prevented Soviet ships from reaching the island.
But the fleet was disestablished in 2011 to save costs and amid reduced tensions with Moscow following the Obama administration’s proposed “reset” with Russia.
However the US has become increasingly concerned with Russia’s military activities including its naval presence in the Atlantic Ocean.
NATO and US officials have said that Russian naval activity, including the use of submarines, is at its highest levels since the end of the Cold War. Officials are concerned that Russian submarines could pose a threat to US attempts to reinforce Europe by sea should a conflict take place between NATO and Russia.
Russia also recently sent a spy ship up the east coast of the US, and Russian Vladimir President Vladimir Putin has announced that Russia is seeking to develop an underwater nuclear-armed drone.
“Prompted in part by a resurgent Russia, the National Defense Strategy made clear that there are countries once again competing to define this era not in the interest of opportunity and equality for all, but on their very restrictive terms,” Admiral John Richardson said.
“We’re not looking for a fight, but the best way to avoid a fight is to have the most powerful and deadly and competitive Navy possible while strengthening our combined naval power in our alliances and expanding our maritime partnerships,” Richardson added.
Officials say the fleet will work with the pre-existing naval units like Naval Forces Europe and the Fourth and Sixth Fleets while focusing on joint, integrated training and operations in “high-end of naval warfare.”
The fleet will also once again help support NATO and the recently announced NATO Joint Force Command for the Atlantic which will be located in Norfolk, Virginia.