Wizards of Oz

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Return of the U.S. 4th Fleet

The Pentagon announced earlier today that, effective July 1st 2008, the U.S. Navy will reestablish the U.S. Fourth Fleet. FOURTHFLT will oversee operations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America, and will operate out of the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSOUTH) headquarters in Mayport, FL.

The inaugural COMFOURTHFLT will be RADM Joseph D. Kernan, present commander of Naval Special Warfare Command and the first Navy SEAL (and, by nature of Special Operations, and expert on irregular warfare and COIN) to ever command a numbered fleet.

From today's Miami Herald:

Fourth Fleet to sail again in Latin America

It's official: The Pentagon formally announced Thursday that it is reestablishing an administrative entity called the Fourth Fleet -- to oversee Navy vessels that sail the Caribbean, Central and South America. Rear Adm. Joseph D. Kernan, who now runs the Naval Special Warfare Command, will be its new commander.

He becomes the first Navy SEAL, or officer who served in the Navy's elite commando unit, to serve as a numbered fleet commander.

No new headquarters are being created because it will operate out of the U.S. Navy's Southern Command satellite in Mayport.

"Reestablishing the Fourth Fleet recognizes the immense importance of maritime security in the southern part of the Western Hemisphere and signals our support and interest in the civil and military maritime services in Central and South America," Adm. Gary Roughead, the Pentagon's most senior naval officer, said in a statement released Thursday.

The organization becomes effective on July 1.


Technically, the Fourth Fleet would answer to the U.S. Southern Command in Miami but supervise the various Navy ships and aircraft that might be assigned to sail south of the U.S. border -- on missions ranging from humanitarian relief to stopping drug trafficking to training with other navies in the Americas.

"This change increases our emphasis in the region on employing naval forces to build confidence and trust among nations through collective maritime security efforts that focus on common threats and mutual interests," Roughead said.

The new fleet restores an institution that was established in 1943 in the South Atlantic as U.S. Navy warships searched for Nazi U-boats. It was disbanded after World War II.

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