United_States_Sixth_Fleet

United States Sixth Fleet

The Sixth Fleet is the United States Navy's operational unit and staff of United States Naval Forces Europe, and once had its own headquarters in Gaeta, Italy commanded by a vice admiral. Beginning in 2004, the Sixth Fleet staff was combined with United States Naval Forces Europe staff, up to that time headquartered in London. Since then the staff has operated as a single entity with a four star commander, COMNAVEUR, and a three star Deputy Commander/Chief of Staff who also carries the title COMSIXTHFLT. The staff as a whole is known as COMNAVEUR-COMSIXTHFLT (or CNE-C6F) and works from its facilities at Naval Support Activity Naples at the Capodichino site in Naples, Italy. is the Sixth Fleet flagship with its homeport Gaeta, Italy and operating in the Mediterranean Sea.

U.S. Naval forces entering the Mediterranean Sea are assigned ("chopped") to Sixth Fleet. Sixth Fleet has consisted of up to 40 ships, 175 aircraft and 21,000 people, such as in early 2003, when two carrier battlegroups operated in the Mediterranean in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. However, since the submarine tender , based in La Maddelena in Sardinia, changed homeports to Bremerton, WA, the fleet has just one permanently assigned ship, the Mount Whitney. The fleet typically has a number of frigates and destroyers assigned, as well as those vessels transiting between the East Coast and the Suez. Additionally, since 2005, Sixth Fleet ships have increasingly been operating around Africa, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea.

The current commander of the Sixth Fleet is Vice Admiral Bruce W. Clingan.

History and recent operations

The United States has maintained a naval presence in the Mediterranean since the early 19th century, when U.S. Naval forces first engaged the Barbary Pirates to prevent them from interfering with commercial shipping. The earliest squadron was known as the Mediterranean Squadron.

In 1946, President Truman dispatched the battleship to the Eastern Mediterranean to counter Soviet threats to Turkey and Iran. The small fleet maintained in the Mediterranean by U.S. Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean was known as Naval Forces Mediterranean and had as its flagship, a destroyer tender, anchored at Naples, Italy. The cruiser relieved the tender as flagship and began operating with the fleet. The title of Naval Forces Mediterranean was changed to Commander Sixth Task Fleet and then, in 1950, Commander, Sixth Fleet. Sixth Fleet operated in support of American forces during Operation Blue Bat in Lebanon in 1958.

The Sixth Fleet provided military, logistical and humanitarian assistance to support NATO operations in Kosovo from the beginning of Operation Allied Force. It also participated in Operation Shining Hope and Operation Joint Guardian.

Command Relationships

Both the Commander, Naval Forces Europe and the Commander Sixth Fleet also have NATO responsibilities, with COMNAVEUR serving as Commander Allied Joint Force Command Naples and COMSIXTHFLT wearing two NATO hats, Commander Allied Joint Command Lisbon and as Commander Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKEFORNATO). VADM Clignan actually spends the bulk of his time in Lisbon seeing to his NATO duties.

Organization

The Sixth Fleet is operationally organized into task forces. Each task force is responsible to the Sixth Fleet Commander for specific functions related to assigned units. When strike groups deploy to the Mediterranean from the Atlantic they 'inchop' (transfer command) from Second Fleet to Sixth Fleet. When they pass through the Suez canal they outchop to Fifth Fleet.

Task Force 60 Battle Force

Commander, Destroyer Squadron Six Zero (COMDESRON SIX ZERO) was established as the Navy's newest Destroyer squadron on 19 February 2003, homeported in Gaeta, Italy. The establishment of Destroyer Squadron Sixty provided CNE/COMSIXTHFLT with a permanently assigned destroyer squadron commander, increasing the Commander's options when undertaking national and theater level tasking. The primary mission assigned to Commander Destroyer Squadron Sixty is to conduct prompt, precise, sustained combat or non-combat operations as Commander Task Force 60, Sea Combat Commander, and when directed Maritime Interception Operations Commander. From November 2007 to April 2008, COMDESRON 60 served as Commander Africa Partnership Station with an international staff operating off West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea. ComDesRon 60 also serves as Commander, Task Force 365, Task Force West and Central Africa, which controls all U.S. Navy activities in the West/Central African area.

Task Force 60 is Sixth Fleet's Battle Force. When a Carrier Strike Group "inchops" into the Mediterranean it is usually designated TF 60 and the battle group commander, a one or two-star flag officer, assumes duties as COM TF 60 from COMDESRON 60. The Task Force can be composed of one or more aircraft carriers, each with an accompanying complement of approximately six cruisers and destroyers. On board the aircraft carrier is an air wing of 65–85 aircraft. The air wing is the primary striking arm of the Strike Group, and includes attack, fighter, anti-submarine, and reconnaissance aircraft. Ships accompanying the carrier serve as defensive and offensive platforms with duties involving anti-air, surface and submarine warfare. In addition to its major role of controlling the seas, the Strike Group can also project its power over land.

Task Group 60.4 has most recently been holding the Africa Partnership Station role, and Task Group 60.5 seems now to be permanently assigned as the Southeast Africa Task Group.

Task Force 61, Amphibious Assault Force

Task Force 61 is the Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group (MARG). It is composed of approximately three amphibious ships and their embarked landing craft. From these ships, United States Marine ground forces can move ashore by sea and air in amphibious assault of emergency evacuation missions. Once ashore, the ships of Task Force 61 logistically support the ground forces, until the objective of the landing has been accomplished, and the Marine Forces return to the ships.

Task Force 62, Landing Force (Marine Expeditionary Unit)

Task Force 62 is the combat-ready ground force composed of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) of approximately 1,900 Marines. Transported in Task Force 61 ships, the MEU is equipped with armor, artillery, and transport helicopters that enable it to conduct operations ashore, or evacuate civilians from troubled areas. This MEU is usually from II MEF on the East Coast.

Task Force 63 Logistics Force

Task Force 63 is the Logistics Force. Composed of oilers, provision ships, and repair ships, its mission is the delivery of supplies at sea, and effecting repairs to other ships and equipment of the Fleet.

Task Force 64 Special Operations

The first incarnation of Task Force 64 consisted of nuclear-powered submarines armed with long-range strategic missiles (SSBN). Until the end of the 1970s these ships were homeported in Naval Station Rota, Spain. The mission was strategic deterrence. It is extremely unlikely that any SSBNs are actually still assigned or operate with CNE/C6F in the Mediterranean.

TF 64 is now a Special Operation force, previously headquartered by the now-disbanded Naval Special Warfare Unit 10 at Rota, Spain. NSWU 10 disbanded in 2005, and it is now unclear whether CTF 64 is operating currently. During the initial stages of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Task Force 64 became the administrative command structure created to interface with all non-UK/US special forces and smaller ground combat forces provided by various national governments and under American operational control. This may have been because NSWU 10 elements deployed to Afghanistan to form part of the HQ.

Task Force 67 Land-Based Maritime Patrol Aircraft

Task Force 67 is composed of land-based maritime patrol aircraft. These aircraft operate over the waters of the Mediterranean in anti-submarine, reconnaissance, surveillance, and mining roles. In the past, Task Force 67's has been provided by Commander, Fleet Air Mediterranean (COMFLTAIRMED), but it is unclear whether FLTAIRMED still exists. The Task Force commander also previously held the role of NATO AFSOUTH's Commander, Maritime Air, Allied Naval Forces South with the NATO task force designator TF 431.

Task Force organisation 1999:

  • TG-67.1 Maritime Surv & Recce Det Sigonella (Sicily)
    • TU-67.1.1 Patrol Squadron Sigonella (VP)
  • TG-67.2 Maritime Surv & Recce Det Rota (Spain)
    • TU-67.2.1 Patrol Squadron Rota (when activated; VP)
  • TG-67.3 Patrol Squadron, Souda Bay, (Crete)(When activated)
  • TG-67.4 VQ-2 (Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two)(Rota, Spain)(EP-3)
  • TG-67.8 CROF Souda Bay, Crete

Task Force 68, Maritime Force Protection Force

Established March 17, 2005, CTF 68 is to command force protection forces such as construction battalions, mobile mine assembly units, Marine Corps security forces, and Fleet Anti-Terrorism Teams (FAST).

Task Force 66/69 Submarine Warfare

Task Force 66/69 is responsible for planning and coordinating area submarine and anti-submarine warfare operations in the Mediterranean. Specifically, Task Force 69 is composed of attack submarines that provide capability to destroy enemy surface ships and submarines, as well as protect other Sixth Fleet ships from attack.

List of ships

  • - Command ship

External links

See also

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