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Commander, Submarine Force, US Atlantic Fleet (COMSUBLANT)
Commander, Naval Submarine Forces (COMNAVSUBFOR)
Commander, Task Force 42 (CTF-42)
Commander, Task Force 84 (CTF-84)
Commander, Task Force 144 (CTF-144)
Commander, Submarines Atlantic (COMSUBACLANT)
Commander, Submarines Western Atlantic (COMSUBWESTLANT)

The Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force numbers 40 submarines and more than 15,000 highly trained and motivated officer, enlisted, and civilian personnel providing submarine support to the Atlantic, Arctic, Eastern Pacific, and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. The principal responsibility of the Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMSUBLANT) is to operate, maintain, train, and equip submarines in support of Fleet and National tasking. The COMSUBLANT Vision, Mission, and Guiding Principles guide the officers and men of the submarine force.

The Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force operates and maintains combat ready nuclear-powered strategic deterrent and attack submarines. Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines carry the highly accurate Trident II D-5 Missile and operate undetected in international waters, ensuring our nation's strategic security. Attack submarines perform a myriad of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, insertion of special forces, Tomahawk strike missions, mining, and search and rescue.

Headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, the Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force is supported by Submarine Groups based in Groton, Connecticut; Kings Bay, Georgia; and Naples, Italy. Submarine Group Commanders are responsible for the day-to-day operation of the ships and submarines under their command. Within each Submarine Group are Submarine Squadrons responsible for maintenance, training, and administrative support to submarines and support ships under their control. Atlantic Fleet Submarine Squadrons are located in Groton, Norfolk, Kings Bay, and La Maddalena, Sardinia.

COMSUBLANT reports directly to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT) and serves as his principal advisor for undersea warfare. COMSUBLANT holds traditional Navy Type Commander responsibilities as a force provider to train, equip and maintain the submarines assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. With the reorganization of the CNO's staff in 1992, COMSUBLANT acquired additional responsibilities in these areas for the entire Submarine Force as the senior submarine community sponsor. However, COMSUBLANT is unique among Type Commanders in its operational responsibilities for fleet units.

As Commander, Task Force 42, COMSUBLANT operates Atlantic Fleet attack submarines. In addition, as Commander, Task Force 84, the Atlantic Fleet special surveillance and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) commander, COMSUBLANT operates submarines, Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), surface ships assigned by the Second Fleet and Integrated Undersea Surveillance System assets for ASW purposes.

COMSUBLANT's job as Commander Task Force 84 is to effectively employ and improve the combat capability of Atlantic Fleet submarines and ASW forces afloat while simultaneously increasing the efficiency of operations ashore. T-AGOS ships are operated by the Military Sealift Command and are under the administrative command of Commander, Undersea Surveillance. They are deployed under the Operational Control (OPCON) of the Theater ASW Commanders, CTF 84 and CTF 12. Civilian technicians who operate and maintain the mission equipment man the SURTASS Operations Center (SOC), the nerve center of the ship. When operating with tactical forces, military detachments are embarked for onboard analysis and direct reporting to fleet units.

The Fleet Antisubmarine Warfare Improvement Program (ASWIP) in San Diego, CA serves as a forum for Fleet Operators to identify, discuss, and/or resolve ASW issues or deficiencies. The Fleet ASWIP is comprised of an Executive Steering Committee (ESC), Working Groups, and a Secretariat. CTF-12 [of the Pacific Fleet] and CTF-84 co-chair the Executive Steering Committee, as well as the Operations Working Group.

As Commander, Task Force 144, COMSUBLANT operates, on behalf of the Strategic Command, Atlantic Fleet ballistic missile submarines. COMSUBLANT is an operational commander for the Commander in Chief, U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) for strategic deterrent submarine operations.

COMSUBLANT also has duties within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). As Commander Submarines Atlantic (COMSUBACLANT) he is the principal advisor to the Supreme Allied Command Atlantic (SACLANT) for submarine matters and undersea warfare. As the NATO commander of Submarines Allied Command Atlantic, COMSUBLANT is responsible for submarine policy issues to both the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe. As COMSUBWESTLANT, he is responsible for NATO submarine operations in the Western Atlantic.

Commander, Naval Submarine Forces (COMNAVSUBFOR)

The turn of the fiscal year brought with it a new organizational entity and a change in responsibilities for the Atlantic and Pacific Submarine Forces. On 1 October 2001, VADM John J. Grossenbacher, Commander, Submarine Forces U.S. Atlantic Fleet, assumed additional duties as Commander, Naval Sub-marine Forces (COMNAVSUBFOR). RADM John B. Padgett, II, Commander, Submarine Forces U.S. Pacific Fleet, assumed duties as his Deputy Commander. In a message to the Submarine Force, VADM Grossenbacher noted that the creation of COMNAVSUBFOR improves alignment and efficiency by establishing standard fleet-wide practices on both coasts. "It creates a single voice for submarine readiness requirements, operational and technical needs," Grossenbacher said in his message. "The establishment of COMNAVSUBFOR will enable us to easily reduce the differences in policy, doctrine and procedures within the Submarine Force. the waterfront should be better served by this change." The establishment of this new "super type-commander" is part of the CNO's vision of restructuring the Navy for greater emphasis on fleet operating forces. Both the Navy's surface and air communities shifted to similar arrangements on 1 October. "The purpose of this initiative is to achieve greater unity of effort in fulfilling the Title 10 responsibilities to organize, train and equip the United States Navy," Grossenbacher said. However, for warfighting functions, Grossenbacher and Padgett remain the operational commanders in their respective theaters.


The story of the Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force begins with Navy's acceptance of USS HOLLAND (SS 1) in 1900 and is intertwined with that of its sister force in the Pacific. Submarines first used the New London, Connecticut, base which later became the Headquarters of the Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force until 1960 when it was moved to its present location in Norfolk, Virginia. Prior to World War I, submarines were transferred from the Atlantic to Pacific and patrolled waters as far as the Philippine Islands to protect U.S. interests.

The First World War saw the beginning of formalized submarine training. There were 30 submarines in the Navy at the time the U.S. entered the war in 1917 and it was apparent the submarine had become too complex for on-the-job training. Consequently, on January 19, 1917, the U.S. Navy Submarine School was organized at the Submarine Base at New London, Connecticut.

Although the Western Allies had fought "the war to end all wars", there was no hiatus in the building of submarines after it was over. During the war, the U.S. had begun building the R-class with a total of twenty-seven boats. They were all powered by diesel engines, had four torpedo tubes and a three-inch gun for armament. They carried a crew of twenty-nine men. The R-boat spanned the two world wars.

Early in 1941 Commander Submarines, Atlantic Fleet consisted of two new coastal submarines and a flock of older boats. A good share of these boats had to be reserved for the protection of the Panama Canal. On December 7, 1941, Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMSUBLANT) was established. Instructed to groom his submarines for combat duty, RADM Richard S. Edwards, the first Force Commander set out with a capacity for work, coupled with experience, which spelled success. During World War II COMSUBLANT took on the task not only of 'shaking down' new construction submarines, but also the task of training their crews in the operation of the submarine as well as tactics. In preparing these submarines and their crews, the command mad its major contribution to the war effort. As a training school for officers and crews going into battle, the Atlantic was a hard and exacting teacher and its undersea graduates proved the value of their education through their accomplishments in the war.

Meanwhile, submarines in the Atlantic were getting a taste of realistic action. German U-boats threatened to sever the sea lanes which were providing much needed food and munitions to embattled Britain. In June, 1941, U.S. submarines commenced anti-submarine patrols in search for German and Italian undersea raiders in the Atlantic and Caribbean.

Atlantic Fleet submarines also played a crucial role in winning the Cold War and accomplished a number of historical milestones, including specialized training in tactics involving operations under the Arctic ice pack, circumnavigation of the world submerged and the establishment of a fleet of ballistic missile submarines. But none of the Force's 'firsts' have had more impact than the historic message sent from USS NAUTILUS (SSN 571), the Navy's first nuclear-powered submarine, to COMSUBLANT in January 1955: "UNDERWAY ON NUCLEAR POWER".

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:47:15 ZULU