75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE NUMBERED FLEETS

R 151850Z MAR 18
FM CNO WASHINGTON DC
TO NAVADMIN

NAVADMIN 064/18

SUBJ/75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE NUMBERED FLEETS//

MSGID/GENADMIN/CNO WASHINGTON DC/DNS/MAR//

RMKS/1.  Today 15 March 2018, the U.S. Navy proudly commemorates the 75th 
anniversary of THIRD, FOURTH, and SEVENTH Fleets.  These fleets can trace 
their birthday to a set of messages sent by Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, 
Admiral Ernest J. King that called for establishing a numbered fleet system 
on 15 March 1943 at 1200 Zulu. Admiral King's three part message to the Fleet 
can be found at https://www.history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic/wars-conflicts-
and-operations/world-war-ii/1943/establishment-of-numbered-fleets.html
The TENTH Fleet, which had no assigned operational forces, was established 
separately on 20 May 1943.

2.  Birth of the numbered fleets.  By February 1943, Allied Forces across the 
globe had blunted Axis advances and gained the initiative. To facilitate the 
emerging worldwide naval counter-offenses, on 19 February Admiral King 
announced a redesignation of U.S. naval operating forces.  Effective 15 March 
1943 the United States Fleet would institute a system of numbered fleets.  
Even number fleets were specified for the Atlantic, while odd number fleets 
were for the Pacific.  The commanders of the geographically designated fleets
(Atlantic Fleet and Pacific Fleet) were empowered to allocate operational 
forces to execute tasks of limited time and purpose. These fleets and their 
subordinate task organizations had the distinct advantage of flexibility.  
They could easily be formed to address a specific operational need and 
similarly dissolved after their objective had been met or another priority 
arose.

3.  Although the numbered fleets were officially dissolved in January, 1946 
as a result of the ending of World War II, various numbered fleets were re-
activated throughout the Cold War in response to major contingencies and hot 
wars.  The 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act made the numbered fleets permanent in 
order to conform with joint organizational concepts.

4.  Today, all of our numbered fleets honor this heritage and continue the 
proud legacy to stand ready and remain ever vigilant in defense of the nation 
whenever called upon.

5.  Released by Vice Admiral K. M. Donegan, Director, Navy Staff.//

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