In September of 2011, the U.S. Navy’s Second Fleet was stood down after 65 years of patrolling and defending the northern Atlantic and America’s East Coast. Most of its personnel were absorbed into U.S. Fleet Forces Command as a part of a restructuring that aimed to reduce costs in the face of ongoing anti-terror campaigns around the world.
That decision, like the decision to bring Lockheed Martin’s F-22 program to a halt, has since begun to look a bit short-sighted, as American lawmakers seemed so focused on the war America was fighting that they lost sight of historic opponents. Now, with tensions between the United States and Russia at their highest since the Cold War, America’s defense apparatus has had to reassess the way it does business — starting with the return of the U.S. Navy’s Second Fleet.
Our national defense strategy makes clear that we’re back in an era of great power competition as the security environment continues to grow more challenging and complex,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said on Friday. “That’s why today, we’re standing up 2nd Fleet to address these changes, particularly in the North Atlantic.”
Prior to Second Fleet’s 2011 stand down, it served primary in humanitarian aid and drug interdiction efforts, as that portion of territory, comprised of both sovereign American as well as international waters, was not seen as a contested territory. However, since Russia’s military annexation of Crimea in 2014, concerns about Moscow’s aggressive behavior have stirred a reawakening of Cold War concerns — concerns that proved valid as Russian activity began to increase in the Atlantic.