Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced today the re-establishment of the U.S. Fourth Fleet and assigned Rear Adm. Joseph D. Kernan, currently serving as commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, as its new commander. Fourth Fleet will be responsible for U.S. Navy ships, aircraft and submarines operating in the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
U.S. Fourth Fleet will be dual-hatted with the existing commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO), currently located in Mayport, Fla. U.S. Fourth Fleet has been re-established to address the increased role of maritime forces in the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) area of operations, and to demonstrate U.S. commitment to regional partners.
“Re-establishing 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,” said Roughead. “Our maritime strategy raises the importance of working with international partners as the basis for global maritime security. 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. “
Effective July 1, the command will have operational responsibility for U.S. Navy assets assigned from east and west coast fleets to operate in the SOUTHCOM area. As a result, U.S. Fourth Fleet will not involve an increase in forces assigned in Mayport, Fla. These assets will conduct varying missions including a range of contingency operations, counter narcoterrorism, and theater security cooperation (TSC) activities. TSC includes military-to-military interaction and bilateral training opportunities as well as humanitarian assistance and in-country partnerships.
U.S. Fourth Fleet will retain responsibility as NAVSO, the Navy component command for SOUTHCOM. Its mission is to direct U.S. naval forces operating in the Caribbean, and Central and South American regions and interact with partner nation navies to shape the maritime environment.
Kernan will be the first Navy SEAL to serve as a numbered fleet commander.
For more information on U.S. Fourth Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, including the map of its area of responsibility, go to http://www.cusns.navy.mil