A Long, Distinguished History
Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (COMUSFLTFORCOM) has a long, distinguished history of service to our country and the U.S. Navy. The command was originally established as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (CINCLFANTFLT) on Jan. 1, 1906, by combining the Navy's North Atlantic and South Atlantic Squadrons. Since then, the command remains a high-performance organization that continues to perform its mission to support national defense by providing strategic deterrence with ready forces in the right place at the right time.
Fleet Concept (1901-1905)
The Fleet Concept came into being following the Spanish-American War when new bases acquired in the Caribbean and the Pacific were considered useless unless protected by an adequate fleet. President Theodore Roosevelt placed great emphasis on naval readiness for war. During his first administration, from 1901 to 1905, authorization was obtained from Congress for 10 new battleships, four armored cruisers and 17 smaller craft.
First Commander-in-chief and the great white fleet (1906-1909)
The Atlantic Fleet was established from the Fleet Concept, where all battleships were assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and all armored cruisers and lighter cruisers were assigned to the newly created U.S. Pacific Fleet. The first commander of the Atlantic Fleet was Rear Adm. Robley "Fighting Bob" D. Evans, who assumed command on Jan. 1, 1906, aboard his flagship, the battleship USS Maine (BB 10). In 1907, Rear Adm. Evans led the fleet of 16 first line battleships out of Hampton Roads on the start of the famous world cruise of the Great White Fleet. President Roosevelt witnessed the departure from this yacht, The Mayflower. This ceremonious fleet review served as a highlight of the Jamestown Exposition, then held at the site of present-day Naval Station Norfolk. Manned by 14,000 Sailors, this newly designated battle fleet made up of 16 ships commissioned since the end of the Spanish-American War, covered 43,000 miles and covered 20 port calls on six different continents. After 14 months, the important show of America's naval power to the rest of the world concluded on Feb. 22, 1909.
Commander-in-chief title (1923-1941)
History indicates a continuous use of the title Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet from 1906 until 1923, and then again from 1941 to 2002. In a reorganization of the U.S. Fleet in 1923, the title was abolished and the title Commander, Scouting Force, was used.
On Feb. 1, 1941, General Order No. 143: Organization of the Naval Forces of the United States, re-established the title and reorganized the U.S. Fleet into three separate fleets — Atlantic, Pacific and Asiatic. The order further stated that each fleet would be under the command of a four-star admiral. Rear Adm. Ernest J. King, in his flagship USS Texas (BB 35) at Culebra, Puerto Rico, hauled down his two-star flag and hoisted a four-star flag as commander-in-chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
Atlantic Fleet Flagships and Shore Headquarters (1941-1948)
From April 1941 to April 1948, four flagships served as headquarters for the fleet commander-in-chief:
USS Augusta (CA 31) — from April 1941 to January 1942
The historic spar-decked corvette/sloop-of-war sail warship USS Constellation, which was launched in 1855 — from January 1942 to August 1942
USS Vixen (PG 53) — from August 1942 to May 1946
USS Pocono (AGC 16) — from May 1946 to April 1948
On April 5, 1948, Atlantic Fleet headquarters moved ashore into spaces of the former U.S. Navy hospital in Norfolk — present-day Naval Support Activity (NSA) Hampton Roads. In 2011, the staff moved across the street to a new three-story, 46,000 square-foot headquarters building.
Reorganization and the First Commander of U.S. Atlantic Command (1947)
The organization of the U.S. Armed Forces was reviewed after the turbulent war years. On Dec. 1, 1947, under a reorganization act of the armed forces approved by Congress, the unified U.S. Atlantic Command was established with headquarters co-located to those of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Adm. William H.P. Blandy, commander-in-chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, became the first commander-in-chief, U.S. Atlantic Command — a title that remained dual-hatted (and would later become triple hatted) — until another reorganization of the Armed Forces in 1985 under the Goldwater-Nichols Act, which separated U.S. Atlantic Command from U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
Allied Command, Atlantic (1950-1985)
In the early 1950s, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) decided to establish a new major command — Allied Command, Atlantic — under the command of a U.S. four-star admiral with headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia. Since this was primarily a naval command responsible for allied defense of the North Atlantic, the decision was made to co-locate this organization with that of U.S. Atlantic Command and U.S. Atlantic Fleet to form a tri-hatted command.
On April 10, 1952, Adm. Lynde D. McCormick, commander-in-chief, U.S. Atlantic Command and U.S. Atlantic Fleet, assumed the title as the first Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic. Like U.S. Atlantic Command, Allied Command Atlantic remained intact and part of a tri-hatted command organization until a congressionally mandated reorganization of the U.S. Armed Forces occurred in 1985, which separated command of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet from the other two commands with its own four-star admiral.
Reorganization of the U.S. Armed Forces (1986)
Under this reorganization, the admiral filling the post of commander-in-chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, would also fill the position of deputy commander-in-chief, U.S. Atlantic Command. This role for CINCLANTFLT continued until the secretary of defense approved a separate billet in 1986. On Sept. 26, 1986. Adm. Frank B. Kelson II relinquished the deputy CINCLANTFLT post to Maj. General Thomas G. Darling, U.S. Air Force.
Naval Component to U.S. Southern Command and U.S. Strategic Command (1990-2000)
From Feb. 1, 1991 to Feb. 17, 2000, the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet was the naval component commander for the unified Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Southern Command, assuming responsibility for all U.S. Navy operational and training matters in that area of responsibility.
On Feb. 17, 2000, these responsibilities were reassigned to the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (formerly Commander, South Atlantic Force), assuming naval component commander duties for the unified U.S. Southern Command. However, U.S. Southern Command didn't have any permanently assigned afloat forces. CINCLANTFLT, at the direction of U.S. Joint Forces Command, remained the major force provider for U.S. Southern Command for forces attached there in support of operations and exercises.
On June 1, 1992, the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, became the naval component commander for Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Command, and assumed responsibility for all U.S. Navy operational and training commands under U.S. Strategic Command.
CONCURRENT TITLES (2001-2002)
On Oct. 21, 2001, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) established Commander, Fleet Forces Command (CFFC) as part of a CNO initiative to improve alignment and organization structure to ensure the Navy's fleets, staffs, systems and processes delivered a combat capable Navy ready to respond to all contingencies.
On Oct. 1, 2002, CINCLANTFLT became the naval component commander for the newly-formed U.S. Northern Command, and assumed responsibility for all U.S. Navy operational and training matters. This relationship was modified in 2004 to reflect a support vice operational relationship.
CHANGE OF TITLE (2002)
On Oct. 24, 2020, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield directed that the title of commander-in-chief be reserved solely for the president of the United States. In a message to naval commanders-in-chief, the CNO directed a change of title to that of "commander." This change affected U.S. Atlantic Fleet, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and U.S. Naval Forces Europe.
Establishment of Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (2006)
On May 25, 2006, the CNO issued OPNAV Notice 3111, Serial DNS-33/6U827232 that disestablished CFFC and renamed CINCLANTFLT to Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (COMUSFLTFORCOM). COMUSFLTFORCOM was ordered to carry out the missions currently performed by CFFC and CINCLANTFLT, and serve as the primary advocate for fleet personnel, training, requirements, maintenance and operations issues, and reporting administratively to the CNO as an echelon 2 command.
In October a ceremony was held to officially mark the transition of U.S. Atlantic Fleet and CFFC to U.S. Fleet Forces Command. Three of the 37 previous admirals who held the top post attended the ceremony aboard aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The command is now known henceforth as Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
U.S. Naval Forces Northern Command (2013)
On Feb. 11, 2013, COMUSFLTFORCOM was assigned as the Navy component to Commander, U.S. Northern Command, under the command's operational authority.
U.S. Naval Strategic Command and Joint Force Maritime Component Commander (2019)
On Feb. 1, 2019, COMUSFLTFORCOM was designated as both the service component commander and the functional commander for U.S. Naval Forces Strategic Commander (NAVSTRAT) and the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC) to Commander, U.S. Strategic Command to streamline a more effective method of command and control forces.