Leadership: The Atlantic Fleet Fades Away

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November 2, 2006: Here's another sign that the Cold War is really over. The U.S. Navy has eliminated the Atlantic Fleet, after a century of existence. First established in 1906, the Atlantic Fleet was the first, world class, high seas, naval force from the Americas. At the time, there was fear that Germany's ambitious warship building program might someday endanger the United States. The Atlantic Fleet did go to war with the Germans in 1917, and again in 1941. After 1945, the Atlantic Fleet remained a mighty force, in preparation for a battle with the growing naval power of the Soviet Union. But when the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, their fleet wasted away within a decade. So the American Atlantic Fleet no longer had a major opponent.

The Pacific Fleet still has a full plate, and the Pacific Fleet will remain. The Atlantic Fleet is actually be renamed, and reorganized, into the U.S. Fleet Forces Command, which will be responsible for the training, maintenance and operation of naval forces (ships, aircraft and land installations) on both coasts. The Pacific Fleet will still stand ready to deal with potential problems in Asia.

Actually, the Atlantic Fleet did have its name changed once before, in 1922, to " Commander Scouting Force". It was changed back to Atlantic Fleet in 1941, just in time to fight the Germans once more. But the Russians are not expected to be a threat again, at least not any time soon.

For most of the past century, the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets were basically the two major parts of the U.S. Navy, and each developed unique customs. Sailors would often spend their entire careers in one fleet or the other. But when one was transferred, it was immediately apparent, once the transferred sailor arrived at the new location, that the two fleet were quite different. From now on, however, there will be the Pacific Fleet, and, "the rest of the navy."

 


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