US Navy to Stand up a New Fleet in Indian Ocean

Share this:


News Desk

US Navy wants to set up a new fleet in the Indian Ocean to challenge China’s ‘aggressive’ geopolitical ambitions. Secretary of the US Navy Kenneth Braithwaite announced that he wanted to establish a new First Fleet in the ocean as well as adjacent areas of the Pacific. He said US sovereignty has not been under the kind of pressures it is today ‘since the War of 1812’.

It comes as the US, Indian, Japanese and Australian navies took part in a major maritime exercise in the Indian Ocean. The US military has been strengthening ties with India and other countries in the region to help deter China. Speaking at the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium, Braithwaite said: ‘The Chinese have shown their aggressiveness around the globe.

The US Navy currently has one numbered fleets in the Indian Ocean: the Third and Seventh. The Seventh Fleet was given its current designation of the Western Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean in 1950. It is headquartered in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, and is the largest of the forward-deployed US fleets, with 60 to 70 ships, 300 aircraft and 40,000 Navy, Marine Corps personnel, and Coast Guard support personnel. In the neighboring Pacific Ocean, the Third Fleet was designated from the now inactive First Fleet in early 1973. It covers the eastern Pacific Ocean, including the Bering Sea, Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, and a sector of the Arctic.

The Navy’s Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific currently uses the Sembawang naval base in Singapore to provide logistics support to the Seventh Fleet. The Navy established Third Fleet with its headquarters in San Diego, California, after shuttering the original First Fleet nearly 50 years ago. The fleet’s naval activities were limited to the Eastern Pacific decades later and Seventh Fleet, forward-deployed in Japan, was given greater coverage of the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.

Braithwaite provided no details as to how large a staff the new First Fleet would have or if ships would be forward-deployed to the fleet. He said he wants to put that numbered fleet in the crossroads between the Indian and the Pacific oceans it is ‘really going to have an Indo-PACOM footprint’. The navy can no longer rely solely on the Seventh Fleet in Japan, he said.

He said: ‘We have to look to our other allies and partners like Singapore, like India, and actually put a numbered fleet where it would be extremely relevant if, God forbid, we were to ever to get in any kind of a dust-up.

‘More importantly, it can provide a much more formidable deterrence.’

He also did not outline how exactly the area of operations would be split between First and Seventh Fleets, or how fluid or rigid a boundary there might be between the two Indo-PACOM fleets. Braithwaite added, ‘Chinese presence in the Arctic is unprecedented.

Share this:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *