U.S. Fifth Fleet (C5F), an Echelon III command, supports all naval operations in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR). It encompasses about 7.5 million square miles and includes the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, and parts of the Indian Ocean. This expanse, comprised of 25 countries, includes Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and Somalia.
The usual force of 20-plus ships, with about 1,000 people ashore and 15,000 afloat, consists of a Carrier Battle Group, Amphibious Ready Group, combat aircraft, and other support units and ships. Fifth Fleet exemplifies the Department of the Navy's strategic concept "Forward... From the sea," by providing the ability to respond immediately to any emerging crisis from peace-keeping and humanitarian missions to asserting necessary force in regional conflicts.
The U.S. FIFTH Fleet was reestablished July 1, 1995 in the Central Command area of responsibility as a second responsibility of Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. Vice Admiral Scott Redd became the fifth Commander of FIFTH Fleet followed by Vice Admiral Thomas B. Fargo in June 1996. Vice Admiral Charles W. Moore, Jr. assumed command of FIFTH Fleet on July 27, 1998.
The FIFTH Fleet existed only in history for 48 years after it was disestablished in January 1947. The Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, Admiral Ernest King, established numbered fleets March 15, 1943, as a basis for task force designations and for specific geographic areas. On that date, the existing South Pacific Force, commanded by Vice Admiral William Halsey, became the THIRD Fleet, and the title FIFTH Fleet was designated for a fleet that would operate under the Pacific Fleet.
When major offensive operations began in the Central Pacific in the summer of 1943, Vice Admiral Raymond Spruance became Commander, Central Pacific Force and Commander, FIFTH Fleet. In August 1944, Vice Admiral Spruance dropped the Central Pacific Force title, retaining only Commander, FIFTH Fleet. As naval activity in the Central Pacific increased and operations diminished in the South Pacific, the THIRD and FIFTH Fleets were melded into a single organization, but the title varied, depending on whether Vice Admiral Halsey, Commander, THIRD Fleet or Vice Admiral Spruance, Commander, FIFTH Fleet, actually exercised command. While one admiral commanded the Fleet in a specific operation, the other admiral was ashore with his staff planning the next major offensive. Vice Admiral Spruance served as FIFTH Fleet operational commander for most of the war.
One of the most striking operations executed by the FIFTH Fleet was the capture of the Japanese island of Okinawa. Other battles involving the FIFTH Fleet included the Mariana Islands Operations, the Battle OF the Philippine Sea and the Iwo Jima Operation. Vice Admiral John H. Towers relieved Vice Admiral Spruance as Commander, FIFTH Fleet November 8, 1945. January 18, 1946, Vice Admiral Frederick C. Sherman became the third Commander of the FIFTH Fleet.
March 26, 1945, Commander, SEVENTH Fleet assumed responsibility for the control of the areas and forces assigned to FIFTH Fleet, and the Commander, FIFTH Fleet staff moved ashore on the West Coast. Vice Admiral Alfred E. Montgomery assumed command of the FIFTH Fleet September 5, 1946, and in January 1947, FIFTH Fleet was disestablished.
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