Second Fleet is becoming operational

The resurrected Norfolk-based 2nd Fleet will become operational by early next year, the fleet’s deputy commander announced Wednesday.

Speaking at the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium in Arlington, Virginia, Rear Adm. John Mustin said that it’s been built from scratch to remain relevant in the 21st century.

“We are moving out rapidly to build a 2nd Fleet that is fit for its purpose, but more importantly fit for its time,” Mustin said. “Put simply, 2nd Fleet will focus on forward operations and the employment of forces in the Atlantic.”

The fleet will oversee the training of Navy forces on the East Coast as they prep for deployment, and will also serve as the maneuver element for the Navy across the vast Atlantic Ocean.

“The largest difference between the old and new 2nd Fleet is the balance between force generation and force employment,” Mustin said. “The new 2nd Fleet will be postured to support the employment of forces, whether that’s on the western side of the Atlantic, the eastern side of the Atlantic, or up in the Arctic.”

Vice Adm. Andrew L. “Woody” Lewis took the helm of the 2nd Fleet in a Friday ceremony aboard a carrier tied up to a pier at Naval Station Norfolk.

Fleet Forces Command will continue to administer combat-ready elements operating on the East Coast. It also will control commands in the early stages of their training for overseas deployments.

Second Fleet will take over when the individual commands within a carrier strike or amphibious ready group reach the integrated phase of their training. That’s when they’re on the cusp of waging high-end fights, shortly before their pre-deployment Composite Unit Training Exercise, or “COMPTUEX.”

“This is an important distinction from the prior 2nd Fleet,” Mustin said, because it “aligns us with all the numbered fleets based OCONUS.”

To reach full operational capacity, 2nd Fleet’s staff is rapidly expanding, Mustin said.

He was the 18th staffer to report in, but by March there will be 85 serving the command and “that number will continue on a glide slope that is increasing rapidly,” he added.

In order to avoid a bloated bureaucracy, Mustin said the command will lean on Fleet Forces whenever they can while “recruiting the best and the brightest and looking for a staff that will be lean, agile and expeditionary.”