United States Sixth Fleet
The U.S. Sixth Fleet's seal
|Active||12 February 1950 – present|
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Navy|
|Part of||Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe|
|Garrison/HQ||NSA Naples, Italy|
|Vice Admiral Philip S. Davidson, USN|
The Sixth Fleet is the United States Navy's operational fleet and staff of United States Naval Forces Europe. The Sixth Fleet is headquartered at Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy. The officially stated mission of the Sixth Fleet in 2011 is that it 'conducts the full range of Maritime Operations and Theater Security Cooperation missions in concert with coalition, joint, interagency and other parties in order to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa.' The commander of the Sixth Fleet is Vice Admiral Philip S. Davidson.
The Sixth Fleet was established in February 1950 by redesignation of the former Sixth Task Fleet. Since that time, it has been continually engaged in world affairs around the Mediterranean, and, on occasion, further afield. It was involved in numerous NATO maritime exercises, the U.S. Lebanese intervention of 1958, confrontation with the Soviets during the Yom Kippur War (also known as the October War) of 1973, clearance of the Suez Canal post 1973, several confrontations with Libya during the 1980s (including Operation El Dorado Canyon), and maintenance of task forces in the Adriatic during the wars in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Most recently it launched airstrikes on Libya again during the Libyan civil war of 2011.
Since the establishment of NATO it has constituted the most powerful Allied maritime striking force in the NATO Southern Region, and has retained the title of Naval Striking and Support Force Southern Europe (STRIKFORSOUTH) in its NATO identity. However with the reorganization of NATO in the early twenty-first century the title became Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO. Thomas A. Bryson's 'Tars, Turks, and Tankers: The Role of the United States Navy in the Middle East' covers the fleet's activities from 1950 to 1980.
- 1 History
- 2 Structure
- 2.1 Destroyer Squadron 60
- 2.2 Task Force 60
- 2.3 Task Force 61, Amphibious Assault Force
- 2.4 Task Force 62, Landing Force (Marine Expeditionary Unit)
- 2.5 Task Force 63 Logistics Force
- 2.6 Task Force 64 Special Operations
- 2.7 Task Force 65
- 2.8 Task Force 66
- 2.9 Task Force 67 Land-Based Maritime Patrol Aircraft
- 2.10 Task Force 68, Maritime Force Protection Force
- 2.11 Task Force 69 Submarine Warfare
- 3 Past Command ships
- 4 Sixth Fleet Commanders
- 5 See also
- 6 Footnotes
- 7 External links
The United States has maintained a naval presence in the Mediterranean since the early 19th century, when U.S. Naval forces first engaged the Barbary pirates to prevent them from interfering with commercial shipping. The earliest unit was the Mediterranean Squadron.
On February 1, 1946, U.S. Naval Forces, Northwest African Waters (NavNAW), was redesignated U.S. Naval Forces, Mediterranean. The force was responsible to U.S. Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean in London, and had as its flagship, a destroyer tender, anchored at Naples, Italy. In 1946, President Truman dispatched the battleship Missouri to the Eastern Mediterranean, ostensiably to return the body of Münir Ertegün, former Turkish Ambassador to Washington, back to Istanbul. However perhaps a much stronger motive was to demonstrate U.S. power in view of Soviet threats to Turkey and Iran. The cruiser Dayton relieved the tender Shenandoah as flagship and began operating with the fleet. In June 1946 Fargo, flying the flag of Vice Admiral Bernhard Bieri, Commander, Naval Forces Mediterranean, was despatched to Trieste.
On 5 September 1946, USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, flying the flag of Rear Admiral John H. Cassady, Commander Carrier Division 1, and accompanied by USS Little Rock (CL-92), USS Cone, USS New and USS Corry visited Piraeus, the port of Athens. USS Randolph, escorted by USS Fargo and USS Perry visited Greece in December 1946.
The title of Naval Forces Mediterranean was changed to Commander Sixth Task Fleet and then, in 1950, Commander, Sixth Fleet. Sixth Fleet's NATO guise was the principal player in Exercise Longstep during November 1952. In 1957, a naval exercise, Operation Deep Water, took place within the Allied Forces Southern Europe area of responsibility. It was conducted by Naval Striking and Support Forces Southern Europe (STRIKFORSOUTH), commanded by Vice Admiral Charles R. Brown, USN, who also commanded the Sixth Fleet. STRIKEFORSOUTH was effectively the NATO designation for the U.S. Sixth Fleet, though additional NATO headquarters personnel would eventually be assigned, while maintaining American control over its nuclear weapons on board U.S. aircraft carrier as mandated by the Atomic Energy Act of 1946.
Sixth Fleet supported American land forces during Operation Blue Bat in Lebanon in 1958. During the Cold War, the Sixth Fleet had several confrontations with the Soviet Navy's 5th Operational Squadron, notably during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. During the Yom Kippur War Elmo Zumwalt describes part of the Sixth Fleet buildup as follows:
"On 25 October JCS directed TG 20.1, John F. Kennedy and escorts, to [come under the command of].. ComSixthFleet as TG 60.3 and proceed to join TG 60 south of Crete. Additionally, Franklin D. Roosevelt and escorts (TG 60.2) and TF61/62 [the amphibious task forces] were directed to join TG 60.1 south of Crete. ... TG 100.1 (Baltic destroyers) were ordered to proceed to the Mediterranean and chop to ComSixthFleet..'
In an exchange of notes on April 13 and 25, 1974, the United States and Egypt agreed that the United States would provide extensive assistance to clear the Suez Canal of mines, unexploded ordnance, and sunken ships. These operations took the form of Nimbus Star (mine and ordnance clearance), Nimbus Moon (land and sub-surface naval ordnance clearance), and Nimrod Spar, in which a private salvage contractor would clear the canal of the ten sunken ships under the supervision of the Sixth Fleet's Task Force 65. Captain J. Huntly Boyd, the Navy's Supervisor of Salvage, was sent to the Canal Zone as Commander, Salvage Task Group (CTG 65.7). He supervised the actual salvage clearing operation which was carried out by the Murphy Pacific Marine Salvage Company of New York. A total of ten ships blocked the canal; 200 civilian specialists worked from May to December 1974 to complete the operation. The canal reopened on June 5, 1975, with the Sixth Fleet flagship Little Rock in attendance.
The Sixth Fleet provided military, logistical and humanitarian assistance to support NATO operations in Kosovo from the beginning of Operation Allied Force. It also participated in Operation Shining Hope and Operation Joint Guardian. In March 2011, it was involved in operations in Libya pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.
The fleet once had its headquarters in Gaeta, Italy, commanded by a Vice Admiral. However, beginning in 2004, the Sixth Fleet staff was combined with United States Naval Forces Europe staff, up to that time headquartered in London. Since then the staff has operated as a single entity with a four star admiral who serves as Commander, Naval Forces Europe and Commander, Naval Forces Africa. This admiral has a three star Deputy Commander who also carries the title Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet. The staff as a whole is known as Commander, Naval Forces Europe-Africa/Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet or CNE-CNA/C6F and works from its facilities at Naval Support Activity Naples at the Capodichino site in Naples, Italy. USS Mount Whitney is the Sixth Fleet flagship with its homeport Gaeta, Italy and operating in the Mediterranean.
U.S. Naval forces entering the Mediterranean Sea have their operational control changed to being under Sixth Fleet. This change of command is always referred to as 'CHOPing,' an abbreviation for Change of Operational Control. Sixth Fleet has consisted of up to 40 ships, 175 aircraft and 21,000 people, such as in early 2003, when two carrier battlegroups operated in the Mediterranean during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Since the submarine tender Emory S. Land, based in La Maddalena in Sardinia, changed homeports to Bremerton, Washington, the fleet has just one permanently assigned ship, the Mount Whitney. The fleet typically has a number of frigates and destroyers assigned, as well as those vessels transiting between the East Coast and the Suez. Since 2005, Sixth Fleet ships have increasingly been operating around Africa, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Sixth Fleet is operationally organized into task forces. Naval Striking and Support Forces, South included Task Force 502 (Carrier Forces, effectively Task Force 60), Task Force 503 (Amphibious Forces), Task Force 504 (Landing Forces), Task Force 505 (Logistics Forces), and Task Force 506 (Special Operations Forces).
Destroyer Squadron 60
Destroyer Squadron 60 (DESRON SIX ZERO) was established on 19 February 2003. It was homeported in Gaeta, Italy. The establishment of Destroyer Squadron Sixty provided CNE/COMSIXTHFLT with a permanently assigned destroyer squadron, increasing the Sixth Fleet's options when undertaking national and theater level tasking.
From November 2007 to April 2008, COMDESRON 60 (Commander, Destroyer Squadron 60's commander) served as Commander Africa Partnership Station with an international staff operating off West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.
He also serves as Commander, Task Force 365, Task Force West and Central Africa.
Task Force 60
Task Force 60 is the Sixth Fleet's Battle Force. When any carrier strike group enters into the Mediterranean control zone it is usually designated TF 60 and the battle group commander, a one or two-star flag officer, assumes duties as Commander Task Force 60 (CTF 60) from COMDESRON 60. The Task Force is often composed of one or more aircraft carriers, each with an accompanying complement of two to six cruisers and destroyers. On board the aircraft carrier is an Carrier air wing of 65–85 aircraft. This air wing is the primary striking arm of the Strike Group, and includes attack, fighter, anti-submarine, and reconnaissance aircraft.
During the 1986 confrontation with Libya, that led to Operation El Dorado Canyon, the Sixth Fleet's battle force was under the command of Rear Admiral David E. Jeremiah. Task Group 60.1 under Rear Admiral J.C. Breast was made up of the Coral Sea and her escorts, Task Group 60.2 under Jeremiah, the Saratoga and her escorts, and Task Group 60.3 under Rear Admiral Henry H. Mauz, Jr., the America and her escorts. Task Group 60.5, the Surface Action Group under Captain Robert L. Goodwin, was made up of a missile cruiser, missile destroyer, and another destroyer.
In November 2007, Task Group 60.4 held the Africa Partnership Station role. In 2012, Task Group 60.5 was permanently assigned as the Southeast Africa Task Group. The Group may be renamed the South and East Africa Task Group. It held the alternate designation of Task Force 363 
As of 2011 Task Force 60 will normally be the commander of Naval Task Force Europe and Africa. Any naval unit within the USEUCOM or USAFRICOM AOR may be assigned to TF 60 as required upon signal from the Commander of the Sixth Fleet.
Task Force 61, Amphibious Assault Force
Task Force 61 was the Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group. It is composed of approximately three amphibious ships and their embarked landing craft. From these ships, United States Marine ground forces can move ashore by sea and air in amphibious assault or emergency evacuation missions. Once ashore, the ships of Task Force 61 logistically support the ground forces, until the objective of the landing has been accomplished, and the Marine Forces return to the ships.
As of 2011, according to official NavEur/NavAf Public Affairs sources, Task Force 61 will normally be the commander of the deployed carrier strike group (CSG) and will exercise operational control of all units assigned to TF61 operating in the USEUCOM or USAFRICOM AOR.
Task Force 62, Landing Force (Marine Expeditionary Unit)
Task Force 62 is the combat-ready ground force composed of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) of approximately 1,900 Marines. Transported in Task Force 61 ships, the MEU is equipped with armor, artillery, and transport helicopters that enable it to conduct operations ashore, or evacuate civilians from troubled areas. This MEU is usually from II MEF on the East Coast.
As of 2011, according to official Public Affairs sources, Task Force 62 will normally be the commander of the deployed Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and will exercise operational control of all units assigned to TF61 operating in the USEUCOM or USAFRICOM AOR.
Task Force 63 Logistics Force
Task Force 63 is the Logistics Force. Task Force 63 and Military Sealift Command's Sealift Logistics Command (SEALOGEUR) are two separately named formations that actually operate as a unified one with one staff. Task Force 63 is headquartered at Naples, Italy. Composed of oilers, provision ships, and repair ships, its mission is the delivery of supplies at sea, and effecting repairs to other ships and equipment of the Fleet. Commander, Task Force 63 (CTF-63) is the operational commander of all the U.S. 6th Fleet air and sea logistics. While in theater, Military Sealift Command's Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force and Special Mission ships report to CTF-63 along with cargo planes that support 6th Fleet and U.S. European Command logistics missions.
CTF-63 is also responsible for ordering and tracking spare parts and supplies being delivered to ships in theater. CTF-63 is the immediate operational commander of Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron One (MPSRON ONE) based in the Mediterranean Sea. The ships of MPSRON One are deployed year-round. This pre-positions U.S. military cargo at sea. Should a military or humanitarian crisis arise in theater, the squadron can deliver its cargo ashore, enabling a faster U.S. response.
Task Force 64 Special Operations
The first incarnation of Task Force 64 consisted of nuclear-powered submarines armed with long-range strategic missiles (SSBN). Until the end of the 1970s these ships were homeported in Naval Station Rota, Spain. The mission was nuclear deterrence. It is extremely unlikely that any SSBNs are actually still assigned or operate with CNE/C6F in the Mediterranean.
Previously, CTF 64 was responsible for ballistic missile submarines assigned to the Sixth Fleet. CTF 64's administrative title, was Commander Submarine Group 8. ComSubGru 8's operational functions were accomplished through four Task Forces: CTF 64, CTF 69 (attack submarines), NATO's CTF 442, or deployed SSBNs and CTF 439, the operational title for Commander Submarines Allied Naval Forces South—the rear admiral's NATO hat. (globalsecurity.org)
TF 64 then became a Special Operation force, previously headquartered by the now-disbanded Naval Special Warfare Unit 10 at Rota, Spain. NSWU 10 disbanded in 2005, and it is now unclear whether CTF 64 is operating currently. During the initial stages of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Task Force 64 became the administrative command structure created to interface with all non-UK/US special forces and smaller ground combat forces provided by various national governments and under American operational control. This may have been because NSWU 10 elements deployed to Afghanistan to form part of the HQ.
Task Force 65
Task Force 65/Destroyer Squadron 60 located in Naples, Italy. Commander, Task Force 65/Commander Destroyer Squadron SIX ZERO exercises operational and tactical control of all forward deployed surface combatants operating in the USEUCOM and USAFRICOM AORs under the direction of Naval Forces Europe/Africa. TF 65 surface combatants execute myriad operations from as far North as the Norwegian Sea and south to the Cape of Good Hope including Ballisitic Missile Defense, Sea Lines of Communication enforcement, Maritime Interdiction Operations, direct support to NATO combined and Joint operations and exercises, Counter-terrorism operations, Counter-piracy operations, Africa Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership operations, whole of government Africa Partnership Station deployments and Theater Security Cooperation activities both inport and underway.
It can be seen from this 2011 official description that the CDS 60 task force designator has been switched from TF 60 to TF 65. In November 2007, the destroyer Forrest Sherman circumnavigated the African continent while performing theater security operations with local military forces as the flagship of Task Group 60.5, the U.S. Navy's Southeast Africa task force.
Task Force 66
Task Force 66 will usually be the commander of the deployed Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and will exercise operational control of all units assigned to TF66 operating in the USEUCOM or USAFRICOM AOR.
Task Force 67 Land-Based Maritime Patrol Aircraft
Task Force 67 is composed of land-based maritime patrol aircraft. These aircraft operate over the waters of the Mediterranean in anti-submarine, reconnaissance, surveillance, and mining roles. In the past, Task Force 67's has been provided by Commander, Fleet Air Mediterranean (COMFLTAIRMED), but it is unclear whether FLTAIRMED still exists. The Task Force commander also previously held the role of NATO AFSOUTH's Commander, Maritime Air, Allied Naval Forces South with the NATO task force designator TF 431.
Task Force organisation 1999:
- TG-67.1 Maritime Surv & Recce Det Sigonella (Sicily)
- TU-67.1.1 Patrol Squadron Sigonella (VP)
- TG-67.2 Maritime Surv & Recce Det Rota (Spain)
- TU-67.2.1 Patrol Squadron Rota (when activated; VP)
- TG-67.3 Patrol Squadron, Souda Bay, (Crete)(When activated)
- TG-67.4 VQ-2 (Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two)(Whidbey Island, Washington) (EP-3)
- TG-67.8 CROF Souda Bay, Crete
As of 2011, officially Task Force 67's mission is to provide responsive, interoperable, and expeditionary combat ready maritime patrol aircraft and supporting forces to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe/Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Africa and Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet (CNE-CNA-C6F), NATO and Unified Commanders to conduct effective Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), maintain Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), enhance regional stability, promote cooperative maritime safety and security, and be decisive while conducting overseas contingency operations.
At some point between 1999 and 2012, probably after Sept 11, 2001, TG-67.6 was activated in Djibouti. This is within the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) area of operations; before the changeover of responsibility for the Horn of Africa from United States Central Command to AFRICOM, this task group was a component of the United States Fifth Fleet's Task Force 57.
Task Force 68, Maritime Force Protection Force
Established 17 March 2005, CTF 68 is to command force protection forces such as construction battalions, mobile mine assembly units, and Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Teams (FAST) platoons which are part of Marine Corps Security Force Company Europe (MCSFCoEUR).
Task Force 68 is the Navy Expeditionary Combat Force. Units typically assigned to TF 68 are Explosive Ordnance Disposal units, Naval Construction units and Marines which make up the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Teams (FAST).
A possibly more recent mission for CTF 68 is Commander, Task Force SIX EIGHT conducts Explosive Ordnance Disposal operations, Naval Construction, Expeditionary Security and Theater Security Cooperation in order to maintain strategic assess, develop interoperability with coalition, joint, inter-agency and other partners, and increase security and stability in Europe and Africa. On order, conduct Point and Area Defense to protect and defend critical infrastructure and High Value Assets against terrorist attack. Be prepared to conduct Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations.
Task Force 69 Submarine Warfare
Task Force 69 is responsible for planning and coordinating area submarine and anti-submarine warfare operations in the Mediterranean. Specifically, Task Force 69 is composed of attack submarines that provide capability to destroy enemy surface ships and submarines, as well as protect other Sixth Fleet ships from attack.
As of 2011, according to official U.S., Navy public affairs contributions to Wikipedia, Task Force 69 is the Submarine Force and exercises operational control of all Submarine assets in the USEUCOM or USAFRICOM AOR.
Past Command ships
Sixth Fleet Commanders
- June 1946 – July 1948 VADM Bernhard Bieri
- July 1948 – November 1949 VADM Forrest Sherman
- November 1949 – March 1951 VADM John Ballentine
- March 1951 – May 1952 VADM Matthias Gardner
- May 1952 – March 1954 VADM John Cassady
- June 1954 – March 1955 VADM Thomas Combs
- March 1955 – April 1956 VADM Ralph Ofstie
- April 1956 – August 1956 VADM H.D. Felt
- August 1956 – September 1958 VADM Charles Brown
- Sept 1958 – September 1959 VADM Clarence Ekstrom
- September 1959 – July 1961 VADM George Anderson
- July 1961 – March 1963 VADM David McDonald
- March 1963 – June 1964 VADM William Gentner
- June 1964 – September 1966 VADM William Ellis
- September 1966 – April 1967 VADM Frederick Ashworth
- April 1967 – August 1968 VADM William Martin
- August 1968 – August 1970 VADM David Richardson
- August 1970 – October 1971 VADM Isaac C. Kidd Jr.
- October 1971– June 1973 VADM Gerald Miller
- June 1973 – September 1974 VADM Daniel Murphy
- September 1974 – August 1976 VADM Frederick Turner
- August 1976 – September 1978 VADM Harry Train II
- September 1978 – July 1979 VADM James Watkins
- July 1979 – June 1981 VADM William N. Small
- June 1981 – July 1983 VADM William Rowden
- July 1983 – February 1985 VADM Edward Martin
- February 1985 – June 1986 VADM Frank Kelso II
- June 1986 – August 1988 VADM Kendall Moranville
- August 1988 – November 1990 VADM J.D. Williams
- November 1990– July 1992 VADM William Owens
- July 1992 – December 1993 VADM Thomas J. Lopez
- December 1993 – April 1995 VADM Joseph Prueher
- April 1995 – July 1996 VADM Donald Pilling
- July 1996 – July 1998 VADM Charles Abbot
- July 1998 – October 2000 VADM Daniel Murphy Jr
- October 2000 – October 2001 VADM Gregory G. Johnson
- October 2001 – November 2003 VADM Scott Fry
- November 2003– May 2005 VADM H. G. Ulrich III
- May 2005 – September 2007 VADM J. "Boomer" Stufflebeem
- September 2007 – August 2008 VADM James A. Winnefeld, Jr.
- August 2008 – November 2009 VADM Bruce W. Clingan
- November 2009 – October 2011 VADM Harry B. Harris Jr.
- October 2011 – present VADM Frank Craig Pandolfe
- Gilla Gerzon - USO Haifa
- American Naval History: An Illustrated Chronology'. pp. 217, 219.
- – Order amalgamating Sixth Fleet and Naval Forces Europe staffs
- NAVEUR, "", 11 October 2013.
- Moody, Robert "Bob". "A brief history of the U.S. Navy's Sixth Fleet". usslittlerock.org. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
- Thomas A. Bryson, Tars, Turks, and Tankers: The Role of the United States Navy in the Middle East, Scarecrow Press, Inc., Metuchen, New Jersey, and London, 1980, 89-90.
- Bryson, 92-97.
- "U.S.S. Little Rock Crew Member's Transcript of his U.S.S. Little Rock experiences as given by Captain Henri H. Smith-Hutton". Retrieved 18 August 2012.
- "Emergency Call". Time. 30 September 1957. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
- "All Ashore". Time. 7 October 1957. Retrieved 7 November 2008.
- Sean M., Maloney (1991). "Securing Command of the Sea: NATO Naval Planning, 1948–1954". thesis. University of New Brunswick. pp. 234–41; 246–7; 291–4. Retrieved 14 September 2011. "Subsequently published by the United States Naval Institute"
- James L. Holloway III, Aircraft Carriers at War
- Elmo Zumwalt, On Watch, 1976, 447.
- Bryson, Tars, Turks, and Tankers, 1980, 185-192.
- Herman, Arthur (2010-06-04). "A crisis the 6th Fleet might've stopped". NYPOST.com. Retrieved 2013-08-29.
- "Military Installations Guide 2.0 NSA Gaeta, Italy – re Destroyer Squadron 60". Retrieved 18 August 2012.
- "Africa Partnership Station: U.S. Naval Operations in West & Central Africa". Retrieved 18 August 2012.
- Norman Polmar, Minoru Genda, Eric M. Brown, Aircraft Carriers: A History of Carrier Aviation and Its Influence on World Events, Potomac Books, Inc., 2006, ISBN 1574886630, 371.
- Africa Partnership Station gets underway, November 2, 2007
- Brigham, Gillian. "USS Ashland Arrives in Mauritius for Maritime Partnership". U.S. Africa Command. Retrieved January 2009.
- according to NavEur/NavAf official Public Affairs sources
- SEALOGEUR[dead link]
- Bryson, Tars, Turks, and Tankers, 1980, 185-195.
- Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph R. Wax, USN (November 25, 2007). "Enterprise Strike Group Exemplifies CNO's Maritime Strategy". NNS071125-02. Enterprise Public Affairs/Fleet Public Affairs Center, Atlantic. Retrieved 2012-06-01.
- "2007 operations". USS Forrest Sherman DDG-98. UScarriers.net. June 1, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-01.
- This Task Force organization for TF-67 was taken from "CTF-67 Command History CY-97", sourced from FLTAIRMED website, 29 May 1999.
- United States Navy, Official Commander of 6th Fleet Website
- Black Sea Port Visits
- Order establishing TF 68 as Maritime Force Protection Force
- Disbandment of NSWU 10