Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet
The mission of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet is to provide combat ready ships and stations to the Fleet, and to ensure that those ships and stations are supplied the leadership, manpower, equipment, maintenance, training, and material needed to quickly achieve decisive victory at and from the sea. The Naval Surface Force Commander prescribes readiness and training requirements for assigned Forces, and ensures that deploying units meet prescribed readiness standards. The Surface Force Command includes all of the ships in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Fleets, with the exception of the CV-type aircraft carriers, submarines, submarine support ships, and Military Sealift Command vessels.
COMNAVSURFLANT, one of the six United States Naval Type Commands (TYCOMS), was established in 1975 as a consolidation of the Cruiser-Destroyer, Amphibious, Service and Mine Forces, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. In addition to SURFLANT's 135 ships, there are special mission and fleet support units that make up the more than 30 commands of the Force. Over 50, 000 personnel are stationed both Stateside (from Bath, Maine to Corpus Christi, Texas) and on the high seas (from the Norwegian Sea in the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf of the Arabian Sea in the Indian Ocean). Additionally, Surface Forces provide a critical element to drug interdiction operations in the Caribbean Sea and the Eastern Pacific.
Cruisers, Destroyers, and Frigates maintain constant readiness to engage enemy land targets, aircraft, ships, and submarines. Our Amphibious ships, with embarked U.S. Marines, project Sea Power ashore by maintaining the capability of landing the Marines by helicopters, amphibious track vehicles, air cushion landing craft, and assault craft whenever and wherever the need arises.
Combat Logistics Force Ships keep the rest of the Navy Mobile and independent of United States and foreign support bases by supplying the food, fuel, and equipment necessary for continued deployed operations. They also provide essential salvage, diving, towing, and repair services for combat forces and in response to national emergencies.
Mine countermeasures ships ensure that transit routes used by U.S. and Allied ships are free from mines, keeping International Sea Lanes open, safe and free. In time of war, they also ensure that coastal areas and restricted passages are free of mines, making possible the use of these areas by other ships of the fleet.
The Naval Beach Group, consisting of the Amphibious Seabees, a Beach Master Unit, and Assault Craft Units, provide essential pre- and post-landing support to our Amphibious Forces. Other special function units include Cargo Handlers, Mobile Diving/Salvage Teams, Explosive Ordinance Disposal Teams, Fleet Surgical Teams, Fleet Introduction Teams, and the Surface Warfare School in Newport, Rhode Island.
The widely diversified and specialized Naval Surface Force Atlantic is an important instrument of national policy in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea, and the Persian Gulf.
In June 1995 the Atlantic Fleet's surface combatant ships were reorganized into six core battle groups, nine destroyer squadrons and a new Western Hemisphere Group. The reorganization was phased in over the summer and took effect 31 August 1995, with homeport shifts occurring through 1998. The plan focused on developing squadron integrity, increasing Sailors' time in homeport, economizing training, and providing a more efficient organization to meet Western Hemisphere requirements. The greatest savings and improvements in efficiency were expected to come from tailoring intermediate and advanced training to the missions the ships will perform. All ships would still complete the basic training phase, but for some the overall training time could be cut between 20 and 44 days. The change in training strategy was intended to bring about 17 percent less time at sea between deployments for most cruisers, destroyers and frigates. Under the reorganization, two cruisers were permanently assigned to each carrier battle group. At the start of the intermediate training phase, a four-ship destroyer squadron, two submarines and a replenishment ship would join the core group to establish the battle group. Nine destroyer squadrons would support the six carrier battle groups, as well as supporting commitments with the Middle East Force, NATO's Standing Naval Force and other required operations. The squadrons were assigned to the battle groups on a rotational basis, depending on where they are in their maintenance and deployment cycles. With minimal homeport changes, ships were phased into their new squadrons upon completion of their current deployment cycle.
When the transition period was complete, the following ship assignments applied:
- Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Group Two/George Washington Battle Group: USS South Carolina and USS Normandy.
- Commander Carrier Group Two/John C. Stennis Joint Task Group: USS San Jacinto and USS Monterey.
- Commander Carrier Group Six/John F. Kennedy/America Joint Task Group: USS Vicksburg, USS Hue City and USS Thomas. S. Gates until Gates transfered to the Western Hemisphere Group in June 1998.
- Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Group Eight/Eisenhower Joint Task Group: USS Anzio and USS Cape St. George.
- Commander Carrier Group Eight/Theodore Roosevelt Joint Task Group: USS Leyte Gulf, USS Vella Gulf and USS Mississippi [Mississippi decommissioned during FY97].
- Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Group Twelve/Enterprise Joint Task Group: USS Philippine Sea and USS Gettysburg.
Destroyer squadron assignments under the reorganization required no ship homeport changes. Norfolk-based Destroyer Squadrons 2, 18, 20, 22, 26, 28 and 32; and Mayport-based Destroyer Squadrons 14 and 24 each have four ships assigned permanently as follows:
- Destroyer Squadron 2: USS Arleigh Burke, USS Deyo, USS Stump and USS Kauffman.
- Destroyer Squadron 14: USS John Rodgers, USS Obannon, USS Underwood, and USS Carney in FY96.
- Destroyer Squadron 18: USS Stout, USS Nicholson, USS Thorn and USS Nicholas.
- Destroyer Squadron 20: USS Mitscher, USS Briscoe, USS Klakring, USS Robert G. Bradley until transfer to Western Hemisphere Group in August 1997, and USS Gonzalez in FY96.
- Destroyer Squadron 22: USS Laboon, USS Caron, USS Simpson, and USS Cole in FY96.
- Destroyer Squadron 24: USS Spruance, USS John Hancock, USS Taylor, and USS The Sullivans in FY97.
- Destroyer Squadron 26: USS Barry, USS Arthur W. Radford, USS Comte de Grasse and USS Samuel B. Roberts.
- Destroyer Squadron 28: USS Peterson, USS Elrod, USS Halyburton, and USS Ross in FY97.
- Destroyer Squadron 32: USS Ramage, USS Hayler, USS Hawes and USS Carr.