Sunday, April 27, 2008

US Navy: Return of the 4th Fleet

Almost 60 years after closing shop, the Navy’s 4th Fleet, which oversaw the hunt for German subs in the South Atlantic, is coming back. Only this time, the prey is drug runners in the Caribbean.

The Navy announced April 24 the re-establishment of 4th Fleet, to be based at Naval Station Mayport, Fla. The command will operate as the naval component of U.S. Southern Command and will have a SEAL at the helm.

Rear Adm. Joseph Kernan, head of Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif., has been chosen to command the new fleet. Kernan will take control of 4th Fleet and the current Naval Forces Southern Command.

Effective July 1, the command will oversee maritime operations in Central and South American waters, similar to the command structure of 5th Fleet, which is also dual-hatted as Naval Forces Central Command, the naval component of U.S. Central Command. With the fleet’s creation, sailors can expect to spend more time in that part of the world, not only taking part in counternarcotics operations, but also humanitarian relief and goodwill tours.

The 4th Fleet was responsible for anti-submarine warfare in the Caribbean and Panama Canal zone in WWII.

This is the sort of periodic reorganization that you get used to in military life. Fundamentally it is meaningless, and a way for the Navy to justify its budget to Congress, or even ask for more money when the economy is booming.

If the Navy really wanted to make an improvement they'd reinstate Admiral Dan's Pandemoniacs and base them out of Puerto Rico again, and actually have them compete against the best of the Trinidad steel bands.

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