The U.S. Navy officially reestablished the U.S. 2nd Fleet on Friday in a ceremony in Norfolk, Va., where the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said its area will extend from the U.S. East Coast to the Northwest edge of Russia
In the ceremony Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis officially became its commander during a ceremony held on the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) at Naval Station Norfolk, where the fleet will be headquartered.
Lewis was nominated and later confirmed for the position by the Senate in June (Defense Daily, June 12). He previously served as deputy chief of naval operations for operation, plans, and strategy (N3/N5) since August 2017.
Richardson pointed out Lewis was fundamental to the intellectual work to stand up the 2nd Fleet on the OPNAV staff. “He made this bed so now he had the privilege to sleep in it.”
The CNO also said this fleet will focus on dynamic maneuvering, which includes geographic maneuvering across the entire Atlantic, and reach to the waters north of Scandinavia and adjacent to the headquarters of the Russian Northern Fleet in Severomorsk.
“The new 2nd Fleet increase our strategic flexibility to respond, from the eastern seaboard to the Berents Sea,” Richardson said.
Richardson added the “2nd Fleet will approach the North Atlantic, as one continuous operational space and conduct expeditionary fleet operations where and when needed” and by doing so enhance alliances, work with NATO partners and European security partners through exercises and combined operations, particularly at the high end of naval warfare.
The CNO said the reestablishment of the 2nd Fleet is part of achieving the National Defense Strategy and the shift to competing with near-peer adversaries Russia and China. He said the new fleet “represents the establishment of a well-forged fighting force with a fighting mindset, restoring a large-scale, ocean-maneuver warfare formation, dedicated to the Atlantic Ocean.”
Richardson first announced the reestablishment of the fleet in May on the recommendation from the Secretary of the Navy’s Strategic Readiness Review (SRR) during a ceremony when Adm. Chris Grady took over U.S. Fleet Forces command from Adm. Phil Davidson. Davidson had moved to lead Pacific Command (Defense Daily, May 7).
The SRR recommended restarting 2nd Fleet as an operational and training division under Fleet Forces, modeled on the 3rd Fleet (Defense Daily, Dec. 14, 2017).
After operating for decades, 2nd Fleet was disestablished in 2011 and most of its assets, personnel, and responsibility transferred into Fleet Forces.
As head of 2nd Fleet, Lewis will now report to Grady.
Lewis said “we will not simply pick up where we left off. We are going to aggressively and quickly build this command into an organization with operational capability. We will challenge our assumptions, recognize biases, learn and adapt from failures so as to innovate in order to build a fleet that is ready to fight.”