|United States Seventh Fleet|
|Founded||March 15, 1943|
(79 years, 9 months)
|Branch||United States Navy|
|Nickname(s)||'Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club' (Vietnam War)|
|Commander||VADM Karl O. Thomas|
|Deputy Commander||RDML Erik J. Eslich|
|Fleet Master Chief|
|Chief of Staff|
|Staff Command Master Chief|
The Seventh Fleet is a numbered fleet of the United States Navy. It is headquartered at U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka, in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is part of the United States Pacific Fleet. At present, it is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with 50 to 70 ships, 150 aircraft and 27,000 Sailors and Marines. Its principal responsibilities are to provide joint command in natural disaster or military operations and operational command of all US naval forces in the region.
The Seventh Fleet was formed on 15 March 1943 in Brisbane, Australia, during World War II, under the command of Admiral Arthur S. "Chips" Carpender. It served in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) under General Douglas MacArthur. The Seventh Fleet commander also served as commander of Allied naval forces in the SWPA.
Most of the ships of the Royal Australian Navy were also part of the fleet from 1943 to 1945 as part of Task Force 74 (formerly the Anzac Squadron). The Seventh Fleet—under Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid—formed a large part of the Allied forces at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle in history, in October 1944. The Seventh Fleet fought in two of the Battle of Leyte Gulf's main actions, the Battle of Surigao Strait and the Battle off Samar.
After the end of the war, the 7th Fleet moved its headquarters to Qingdao, China. As laid out in Operation Plan 13–45 of 26 August 1945, Kinkaid established five major task forces to manage operations in the Western Pacific: Task Force 71, the North China Force with 75 ships; Task Force 72, the Fast Carrier Force, directed to provide air cover to the Marines going ashore and discourage with dramatic aerial flyovers any Communist forces that might oppose the operation; Task Force 73, the Yangtze Patrol Force with another 75 combatants; Task Force 74, the South China Force, ordered to protect the transportation of Japanese and Chinese Nationalist troops from that region; and Task Force 78, the Amphibious Force, charged with the movement of the III Marine Amphibious Corps to China.
After the war, on 1 January 1947, the Fleet's name was changed to Naval Forces Western Pacific. In late 1948, the Fleet moved its principal base of operations from Qingdao to the Philippines, where the Navy, following the war, had developed new facilities at Subic Bay and an airfield at Sangley Point. Peacetime operations of the Seventh Fleet were under the control of Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, Admiral Arthur W. Radford, but standing orders provided that, when operating in Japanese waters or in the event of an emergency, control would pass to Commander, Naval Forces Far East, a component of General Douglas MacArthur's occupation force.
On 19 August 1949 the force was designated as United States Seventh Task Fleet. On 11 February 1950, just prior to the outbreak of the Korean War, the force assumed the name United States Seventh Fleet, which it holds today.
Seventh Fleet units participated in all major operations of the Korean and Vietnamese Wars. The first Navy jet aircraft used in combat was launched from a Task Force 77 (TF 77) aircraft carrier on 3 July 1950. The landings at Inchon, Korea were conducted by Seventh Fleet amphibious ships. The battleships Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri and Wisconsin all served as flagships for Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet during the Korean War. During the Korean War, the Seventh Fleet consisted of Task Force 70, a maritime patrol force provided by Fleet Air Wing One and Fleet Air Wing Six, Task Force 72, the Formosa Patrol, Task Force 77, and Task Force 79, a service support squadron.
Over the next decade the Seventh Fleet responded to numerous crisis situations including contingency operations conducted in Laos in 1959 and Thailand in 1962. During September 1959, in the autumn of 1960, and again in January 1961, the Seventh Fleet deployed multiship carrier task forces into the South China Sea. Although the Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese supporting forces withdrew in each crisis, in the spring of 1961 their offensive appeared on the verge of overwhelming the pro-American Royal Lao Army.
Once again the fleet moved into Southeast Asian waters. By the end of April 1961, most of the Seventh Fleet was deployed off the Indochinese Peninsula preparing to initiate operations into Laos. The force consisted of the Coral Sea and Midway carrier battle groups, antisubmarine support carrier Kearsarge, one helicopter carrier, three groups of amphibious ships, two submarines, and three Marine battalion landing teams. At the same time, shorebased air patrol squadrons and another three Marine battalion landing teams stood ready in Okinawa and the Philippines to support the afloat force. Although the administration of President John F. Kennedy already had decided against American intervention to rescue the Laotian government, Communist forces halted their advance and agreed to negotiations. The contending Laotian factions concluded a cease-fire on 8 May 1961, but it lasted only a year.
In June 1963 the Seventh Fleet held 'Flagpole '63,' a joint naval exercise with the Republic of Korea.
Seventh Fleet represented the first official entrance of the United States into the Vietnam War, with the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Between 1950 and 1970, the U.S. Seventh Fleet was known by the tongue-in-cheek nickname "Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club" since most of the fleet's operations were conducted from the Tonkin Gulf at the time.
On 12 February 1965, USS Salisbury Sound (AV-13) became the first U.S. Navy ship to conduct operations inside Vietnam coastal waters. Salisbury Sound set up a seadrome in Da Nang Bay and conducted seaplane patrols in support of Operation Flaming Dart, the bombing of North Vietnamese army camps.
Operating primarily from Yankee Station off the north coast of Vietnam and the aptly-named Dixie Station off the south coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea, Seventh Fleet was organized into a series of task forces, often known by the acronym CTF (Commander Task Force):
In 1975, ships and aircraft of the Fleet evacuated thousands of U.S. citizens and refugees from South Vietnam and Cambodia as those countries fell to opposing forces.
Since the end of the Vietnam War, the Seventh Fleet has participated in a joint/combined exercise called Team Spirit, conducted with the Republic of Korea armed forces. With capability to respond to any contingency, Fleet operations are credited with maintaining security during the Asian Games of 1986 and the Seoul Olympics of 1988. During 1989, Seventh Fleet units participated in a variety of exercises called PACEX, the largest peacetime exercises since World War II.
A carrier task force of the Seventh Fleet, Task Force 74 (TF 74), entered the Bay of Bengal at the height of the war in December 1971. Its mission was to support Pakistan during the war. TF 74 comprised the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Enterprise; the amphibious assault carrier Tripoli; the destroyers Decatur, McKean, and Orleck; the guided-missile escorts Waddell, King, and Parsons; the nuclear-powered attack submarine Gurnard; and supply ship Wichita. On 15 December, a day before the surrender of Pakistan to the joint force of India and Bangladesh, the task force entered the Bay of Bengal, at a distance of some 1,760 km (950 nmi; 1,090 mi) from Dhaka.
The Soviet Union, in favor of India, dispatched the 10th Operative Battle Group of its Pacific Fleet under Admiral Vladimir Kruglyakov from Vladivostok to the area. This caused the United States Seventh Fleet to abort its mission and leave the Bay of Bengal. At the same time, the Royal Navy had forces in the Arabian sea with a similar goal as the Seventh Fleet, but that mission was also aborted. India won the war and Bangladesh was liberated amid US and UK's naval support to Pakistan.
In response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990, General Norman Schwarzkopf (CINCENT) discussed naval command arrangements in his area of responsibility with Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, Admiral Huntington Hardisty. The result was that Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet was ordered to assume additional responsibilities as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. The Fleet Commander departed Yokosuka, Japan immediately, heading for the Persian Gulf, and joined the remainder of his staff aboard the flagship Blue Ridge on 1 September 1990. During Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, Naval Forces Central Command exercised command and control of the largest U.S. Navy armada since the Second World War. At the peak of combat operations, over 130 U.S. ships joined more than 50 allied ships to conduct maritime intercept operations, minesweeping and combat strike operations against enemy forces in Iraq and Kuwait.
Naval Forces Central Command included six aircraft carrier battle groups, two battleships (Missouri and Wisconsin), two hospital ships, 31 amphibious assault ships, four minesweeping vessels and numerous combatants in support of allied air and ground forces. After a decisive allied victory in the Gulf War, Commander U.S. Seventh Fleet relinquished control of Naval Forces Central Command to Commander, Middle East Force on 24 April 1991 and returned to Yokosuka, Japan to resume his Asia-Pacific duties.
Following months of tension as well as the death of North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung, in July 1994, the Kitty Hawk battle group was diverted from a Southern Watch deployment to the Persian Gulf and remained in the Western Pacific (the Seventh Fleet's operation area) for the entire deployment. The Independence also conducted operations near the Peninsula during the crisis.
In 1996, two aircraft carrier battle groups were sent to the Taiwan Straits under Seventh Fleet control to demonstrate U.S. support for Taiwan during the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis. The Nimitz battle group (CCDG 7) made a high speed transit from the Persian Gulf, while Carrier Group Five, led by Independence, sortied from its Japanese homeports.
Main article: USS John S. McCain and Alnic MC collision
On 21 August 2017, while on a routine visit to Singapore, Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) was involved in a collision with merchant vessel Alnic MC off the coast of Singapore, east of the Strait of Malacca. The incident left 10 Navy sailors missing and five injured. The US Navy announced that Commander of the Seventh Fleet Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin had been dismissed and replaced by Vice Adm. Phillip G. Sawyer, who had already been nominated and confirmed to replace the retiring Aucoin.
Of the 50–60 ships typically assigned to Seventh Fleet, 18 operate from U.S. facilities in Japan and Guam. These forward-deployed units represent the heart of Seventh Fleet, and the centerpieces of American forward presence in Asia. They are 17 steaming days closer to locations in Asia than their counterparts based in the continental United States. It would take three to five times the number of rotationally-based ships in the U.S. to equal the same presence and crisis response capability as these 18 forward deployed ships. On any given day, about 50% of Seventh Fleet forces are deployed at sea throughout the area of responsibility.
Following the end of the Cold War, the two major military scenarios in which the Seventh Fleet would be used would be in case of conflict in Korea or a conflict between People's Republic of China and Taiwan (Republic of China) in the Taiwan Strait.
It was reported on 10 May 2012 that USS Freedom (LCS-1) would be dispatched to Singapore in the northern spring of 2013 for a roughly 10-month deployment. On 2 June 2012 the U.S. and Singaporean Defense Ministers announced that Singapore has agreed 'in principle' to the US request 'to forward deploy up to four littoral combat ships to Singapore on a rotational basis.' Officials stressed however that vessels will not be permanently based there and their crews will live aboard during ship visits.
The Seventh Fleet is organized into specialized task forces.
Task Force 70 – TF 70 is the Battle Force of 7th Fleet and is made up of two distinct components: Surface Combatant Force 7th Fleet, composed of cruisers and destroyers, and Carrier Strike Force 7th Fleet, made up of at least one aircraft carrier and its embarked air wing. The Battle Force is currently centered around Carrier Strike Group Five, the carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) responsible for unit-level training, integrated training, and material readiness for the group's ships and aviation squadrons. As the only continuously forward deployed carrier strike group, the CSG-5 staff does not stand down when the strike group is in Yokosuka, but instead continues to maintain command responsibilities over deploying Carrier Strike Groups and independently deployed cruisers, destroyers, and frigates that operate in the Seventh Fleet operating area. The commander and staff are also responsible for the higher level Task Force 70 duties throughout the year in addition to the CSG-5 duties. The composition of the strike group in immediate proximity of Ronald Reagan varies throughout the year.
The CSG 5 Commander also serves as Battle Force Seventh Fleet and Commander, Task Force (CTF 70) for 7th Fleet. In these responsibilities, CSG 5 serves as the Commander of all surface forces (carrier strike groups, independently deploying cruisers, destroyers and frigates) in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. CTF 70 also serves as the Theater Surface Warfare Commander (TSUWC) and Theater Integrated Air Missile Defense Commander (TIAMDC) for Seventh Fleet.
During the Korean War, Captain Charles L. Melson was the commanding officer of the flagship of the Seventh Fleet, the battleship USS New Jersey (BB-62) from 20 October 1952. He also served during that time as Commander, Task Group 70.1.
Task Force 71 – TF 71 includes all Naval Special Warfare (NSW) units and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Units (EODMU) assigned to 7th Fleet. It is based in Guam.
Task Force 72 – TF 72 is the Patrol and Reconnaissance Force, Seventh Fleet. It is located at Naval Air Facility Misawa (Misawa Air Base), Japan. It is mainly composed of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft and maritime airborne surveillance platforms such as P-3 Orion and Lockheed EP-3 reconnaissance planes operating on land bases. Toward the end of the Korean War, Commander Task Force 72 transferred his flag to USS Pine Island on 7 March and detachments of VP-42 also left USS Salisbury Sound for that seaplane tender. That same day Task Force Seventy-Two was established as the Formosa Patrol Force under Rear Admiral Williamson in Pine Island.
Task Force 73/Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific – 7th Fleet's Logistics Force composed of supply ships and other fleet support vessels. Headquartered in Singapore.
Task Force 74 – TF 74 was the designation used for the Enterprise battle group in 1971. Today, it is the Fleet Submarine Force responsible for planning and coordinating submarine operations within 7th Fleet's area of operations.
Task Force 75 – Navy Expeditionary Forces Command Pacific is 7th Fleet's primary Expeditionary task force. Located in Camp Covington, Guam, CTF 75 is responsible for the planning and execution of coastal riverine operations, explosive ordnance disposal, diving, engineering and construction, and underwater construction throughout the 7th Fleet area of responsibility.
Task Force 76 – Amphibious assault task force currently headquartered at U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo, mainly responsible for supporting Marine landing operations. It is composed of units capable of delivering ship-to-shore assault troops, such as America-class and Wasp-class amphibious assault ships, and landing craft.
Task Force 77 – 7th Fleet Mine Warfare Force composed of mine countermeasure, mine hunter, and mine control ships as well as mine countermeasure helicopters (MH-53). This task force is only activated during specific combat operations and was filled by the Commander of Mine Warfare Command. Mine Warfare Command has now been disestablished and replaced by Navy Mine and Antisubmarine Warfare Command, Naval Base Point Loma, Calif.
Task Force 78 – In 1973, Task Force 78 served as the mine clearance force that cleared Haiphong Harbour in Operation End Sweep. Major elements of the U.S. Navy mine warfare force, including Mobile Mine Command (MOMCOM), Mine Warfare Support Group (MWFSG), and HM-12 were airlifted by C-5A to NAS Cubi Point in the Philippines. These specialists formed the nucleus of Task Force 78, under the command of Rear Admiral Brian McCauley, for Operation End Sweep. Commander, Mine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet had reported to Vice Admiral James L. Holloway III, Commander, Seventh Fleet, in September 1972 as Commander Task Force 78. TF 78 was officially activated in November 1972. However, it became clear more helicopters were needed. Responding to a Navy request for assistance, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Pacific (CG FMFPAC) directed that HMH-463 deploy from MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, to NAS Cubi Point, to join Task Force 78. On 27 November 1972, with the efficient support of Col. Bill Crocker's MAG-24, HM-463 embarked at Pearl Harbor aboard USS Inchon, which was en route from Norfolk to augment Seventh Fleet Amphibious Forces and to participate in End Sweep.
The ceasefire was signed on 23 January 1973, and the day afterwards, major components of TF 78 deployed from Subic Bay to Haiphong. These included four ocean minesweepers (MSO), USS Inchon, and four amphibious ships, including two with docking capabilities to handle the minesweeping sleds towed by the CH-53Ms. During the six months of Operation End Sweep, ten ocean minesweepers, nine amphibious ships, six fleet tugs, three salvage ships, and nineteen destroyers operated in Task Force 78 in the vicinity of Haiphong.'
As of 2010, Commander Naval Forces Korea, an administrative liaison unit between USFK, the ROK Navy, and Seventh Fleet, has been assigned the TF 78 designation. Naval Forces Korea is headquartered at Yongsan and has a base at Chinhae, Commander Fleet Activities Chinhae.
Task Force 79 – The Marine expeditionary unit or Landing Force assigned to the fleet, consisting of at least a reinforced Marine battalion and its equipment. This unit is separate from the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) normally embarked in USS Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG). Marine units serving in 7th Fleet are normally drawn from III Marine Expeditionary Force based in Okinawa, Japan.
Main article: U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka
Main article: U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo
Main article: Naval Base Guam
The Commander of the 7th Fleet is known as COMSEVENTHFLT.
|Vice Adm. Arthur S. Carpender||15 March 1943||26 November 1943|
|Vice Adm. Thomas C. Kinkaid||26 November 1943||20 November 1945|
|Vice Adm. Daniel E. Barbey||20 November 1945||2 October 1946|
|Vice Adm. Charles M. Cooke, Jr.||2 October 1946||28 February 1948|
|Vice Adm. Oscar C. Badger II||28 February 1948||28 August 1949|
|Vice Adm. Russell S. Berkey||28 August 1949||5 April 1950|
|Rear Adm. Walter F. Boone||5 April 1950||20 May 1950|
|Vice Adm. Arthur D. Struble||20 May 1950||28 March 1951|
|Vice Adm. Harold M. Martin||28 March 1951||3 March 1952|
|Vice Adm. Robert P. Briscoe||3 March 1952||20 May 1952|
|Vice Adm. Joseph. J. Clark||20 May 1952||1 December 1953|
|Vice Adm. Alfred M. Pride||1 December 1953||9 December 1955|
|Vice Adm. Stuart H. Ingersoll||19 December 1955||28 January 1957|
|Vice Adm. Wallace M. Beakley||28 January 1957||30 September 1958|
|Vice Adm. Frederick N. Kivette||30 September 1958||7 March 1960|
|Vice Adm. Charles D. Griffin||7 March 1960||28 October 1961|
|Vice Adm. William A. "Bill" Schoech||28 October 1961||13 October 1962|
|Vice Adm. Thomas H. Moorer||13 October 1962||15 June 1964|
|Vice Adm. Roy L. Johnson||15 June 1964||1 March 1965|
|Vice Adm. Paul P. Blackburn||1 March 1965||9 October 1965|
|Rear Adm. Joseph W. Williams, Jr.||9 October 1965||13 December 1965|
|Vice Adm. John J. Hyland||13 December 1965||6 November 1967|
|Vice Adm. William F. Bringle||6 November 1967||10 March 1970|
|Vice Adm. Maurice F. Weisner||10 March 1970||18 June 1971|
|Vice Adm. William P. Mack||18 June 1971||23 May 1972|
|Vice Adm. James L. Holloway III||23 May 1972||28 July 1973|
|Vice Adm. George P. Steele||28 July 1973||14 June 1975|
|Vice Adm. Thomas B. Hayward||14 June 1975||24 July 1976|
|Vice Adm. Robert B. Baldwin||24 July 1976||31 May 1978|
|Vice Adm. Sylvester Robert Foley, Jr.||31 May 1978||14 February 1980|
|Vice Adm. Carlisle A.H. Trost||14 February 1980||15 September 1981|
|Vice Adm. M. Staser Holcomb||15 September 1981||9 May 1983|
|Vice Adm. James R. Hogg||9 May 1983||4 March 1985|
|Vice Adm. Paul F. McCarthy, Jr.||4 March 1985||9 December 1986|
|Vice Adm. Paul D. Miller||9 December 1986||21 October 1988|
|Vice Adm. Henry H. Mauz, Jr.||21 October 1988||1 December 1990|
|Vice Adm. Stanley R. Arthur||1 December 1990||3 July 1992|
|Vice Adm. Timothy W. Wright||3 July 1992||28 July 1994|
|Vice Adm. Archie R. Clemins||28 July 1994||13 September 1996|
|Vice Adm. Robert J. Natter||13 September 1996||12 August 1998|
|Vice Adm. Walter F. Doran||12 August 1998||12 July 2000|
|Vice Adm. James W. Metzger||12 July 2000||18 July 2002|
|Vice Adm. Robert F. Willard||18 July 2002||6 August 2004|
|Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert||6 August 2004||12 September 2006|
|Vice Adm. William Douglas Crowder||12 September 2006||12 July 2008|
|Vice Adm. John M. Bird||12 July 2008||10 September 2010|
|Vice Adm. Scott R. Van Buskirk||10 September 2010||7 September 2011|
|Vice Adm. Scott H. Swift||7 September 2011||31 July 2013|
|Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas Jr.||31 July 2013||7 September 2015|
|Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin||7 September 2015||22 August 2017|
|Vice Adm. Phillip G. Sawyer||22 August 2017||12 September 2019|
|Vice Adm. William R. Merz||12 September 2019||8 July 2021|
|Vice Adm. Karl O. Thomas||8 July 2021||present|
The presence of USS Enterprise in the Gulf of Tonkin was well-known around the world by January 1966. Her own prestige as the largest and most powerful warship of the fleet had followed her to Yankee and Dixie Station, and there was more to the emerging legend than this; she and USS Bainbridge, her frigate "smallboy", had put a watershed date in naval history merely by being the first nuclear-powered ships to engage in combat. Their unmatched speed, detection systems, and operational capacity potential were proving their worth far beyond the original estimates during the first weeks "on the line at the Tonki Gulf Yacht Club."
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