United States Fleet
|United States Fleet|
Ensign of the U.S. Navy
|Branch||United States Navy|
|Role||Operational Naval Force|
|Part of||United States Navy (1922-46)|
|Fleet HQ||Washington DC, USA.|
|First||Admiral Hilary Pollard Jones, Jr.|
|Last||Fleet Admiral Ernest Joseph King.|
- Inter-War Period-Establishment
A General Order of 6 December 1922. This put most of the major fighting forces of the Navy under a new organization, the United States Fleet. This would consist of: 1) the Battle Fleet, based in the Pacific and encompassing most of the battleships, including all of the more modern ones; 2) the Scouting Fleet, consisting of older battleships and other units, based in the Atlantic; 3) the Control Force, based in the Atlantic, consisting of light forces assigned to protection of the sealanes and defence against amphibious attack; and 4) Fleet Base Force. Not included in the United States Fleet, and remaining independent, were the Asiatic Fleet; Naval Forces, Europe; 3) the Special Service Squadron in the Caribbean; and 4) the submarines.
In subsequent years the Scouting Fleet seems to have been used largely for training duties--midshipmen cruises and the like--which became the major function of the older battleships on the East Coast (at some point a Training Squadron was established; I'm not sure whether it was part of the Scouting Fleet). The exact disposition of battleships fluctuated, but at the beginning of the new organization the Scouting Fleet got five of the older dreadnoughts. Some of these were soon decommissioned, and through the twenties there were only a few dreadnoughts on the East Coast, apart from those in modernization. Although one might think the carriers would be in the Scouting Force, they were generally assigned to the Battle Fleet, in what eventually became Aircraft, Battle Force-- langley went to the Pacific in 1924; Lexington and Saratoga were based in the Pacific after their trials; Ranger was in the Pacific in 1935-1939; Yorktown and Enterprise went there in 1939. I would like to know more about the obscure Control Force, which is seldom mentioned. It is an interesting concept--a naval force devoted to direct protection of the sealanes--and seemingly rather out of step with the battle fleet focus of U.S. naval thinking in the era; perhaps it was a remnant of the convoy escort forces of the Great War.
A few more organizational changes were made in the early thirties. On 10 December 1930 the U.S. Fleet was organized to create more of a type-command structure within the forces. The main components of the U.S. Fleet were the Battle Force (no longer Battle Fleet, not that it really matters), Scouting Force, Submarine Force (apparently the subs were now under U.S. Fleet), and Base Force. The Control Force was abolished in 1931. The Asiatic Fleet and Special Service Squadron were retained, both still apparently independent of the U.S. Fleet.
In early 1932 the Scouting Force came to the Pacific for manoeuvres. It was decided to retain the force in the Pacific, in the wake of the Manchurian crisis. For most of the thirties, then, U.S. naval strength in the Atlantic and Caribbean was reduced to the Training Squadron on the East Coast, including a few older battleships, and the Special Service Squadron in the Caribbean.
The Scouting Force at one time consisted largely of destroyers. Admiral Richardson's autobiography gives its composition as 38 destroyers and a light cruiser flagship. In 1937, though, changes were made in the composition of the Scouting Force. By 1939 it consisted of an incongruous combination of twelve heavy cruisers, one light cruisers, and all of the land-based patrol aircraft. This of course was an administrative, paper organization. In practice the fleet was increasingly experimenting with task forces, including tactical combinations of aircraft carriers (administratively, Aircraft, Battle Force) and heavy cruisers (administratively under the Scouting Force).
- World War II-Reorganization
The Atlantic presence was slowly upgraded again. In January 1939 the Atlantic Squadron, United States Fleet, was formed. In 1939 carrier Ranger was transferred to the Atlantic, to join the three old battleships. On 1 November 1940 the Atlantic Squadron was renamed the Patrol Force, in keeping with its duties of wartime hemispheric defence. In 1939 the main components of the United States Fleet were: Battle Force: five carriers, 12 battleships, 14 light cruisers, 68 destroyers. --Scouting Force: 12 heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, 4 VCS squadrons, Submarine Force (by late 1940 these apparently had been incorporated into the Scouting Force, logically enough), Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic Squadron: 3 battleships ( Arkansas, New York, and Texas) and nine destroyers. The Asiatic Fleet apparently remained independent. But in 1940, as noted, the Special Service Squadron was abolished.
On 1 February 1941 another significant reorganization was effected. The Atlantic and Pacific Fleets were reestablished, under the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet (CINCUS). The Asiatic Fleet was brought under the control of CINCUS. At around this time the Atlantic Fleet was significantly strengthened by the transfer of carrier Yorktown, all three New Mexico-class battleships, and other units.
With the start of World War II in Europe the U.S. Navy began to plan for the possibility of war in the Atlantic as well as the Pacific. On 1 February 1941, General Order 143 was issued, abolishing the "United States Fleet" organization. In its place, the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and the U.S. Pacific Fleet were re-established, each under its own commander-in-chief. The Asiatic Fleet remained an independent organization as before. The additional title of Commander-in-Chief United States Fleet was given to one of the three fleet commanders in the event of two or more fleets operating together. Except for this provision, the individual commanders-in-chief were responsible directly to the Secretary of the Navy and to the President of the United States.
Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel was appointed the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet and the Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet, on February 1, 1941, carrying the temporary rank of Admiral starting on that date. Admiral Kimmel was relieved as the CINPAC / CINCUS on 17 December 1941, shortly after the devastating Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. On the following day, by United States Executive order 8984 of December 18, 1941, the position of Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet was re-established, and he was given operational command over the Atlantic, Pacific, and Asiatic Fleets, and all naval coastal forces. On 20 December, Admiral Ernest J. King was assigned as the COMINCH. One important difference from the previous post of CINCUS was that Admiral King insisted that his headquarters would always be in Washington, D.C., rather than with the Fleet.
Dividing command of the Navy between the COMINCH King and the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Harold R. Stark did not prove to be very effective. President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed this problem with his United States Executive order 9096 of March 12, 1942. This order commanded that the offices of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet (COMINCH) would be held by a single naval officer, and Admiral King received the designation of CNO in addition to that of COMINCH. Admiral King relieved Stark as the CNO on 29 March 1942, and King wore both of these "hats" for the remainder of World War II.
The position of Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet, no longer needed in peacetime, was abolished by Admiral King on 10 October 1945, and its responsibilities were transferred to the Chief of Naval Operations. From that date through the present, the Chief of Naval operations has nearly always been the highest-ranking U.S. Navy officer. Since September 1947, the CNO has held the additional position of Chief of Staff of the United States Navy, and he is the highest-ranking naval officer except when the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is also a U.S. Navy officer.
Commander in Chief, United States Fleet (1922-45)
- Admiral Hilary Pollard Jones, Jr, 1922–1923
- Admiral Robert Edward Coontz , 1923–1925, (also Chief of Naval Operations)
- Admiral Samuel Shelburne Robison, 1925–1926
- Admiral Charles Frederick Hughes, 1926–1927, (also Chief of Naval Operations)
- Admiral Henry Ariosto Wiley , 1927–1929
- Admiral William Veazie Pratt , 1929–1930, (also Chief of Naval Operations)
- Admiral Jehu Valentine Chase, 17 September 1930–15 September 1931
- Admiral Frank Herman Schofield , 1931–1932
- Admiral Richard Henry Leigh , 1932–33
- Admiral David Foote Sellers, 10 June 1933–18 June 1934
- Admiral Joseph Mason "Bull" Reeves, February 26, 1934–June 1936
- Admiral Arthur Japy Hepburn, 24 June 1936–1938
- Admiral Claude Charles Bloch, 1938–6 January 1940
- Admiral James Otto Richardson, 6 January 1940-January 5, 1941
- Admiral Husband Edward Kimmel, January 5, 1941-December 1941
- Fleet Admiral Ernest Joseph King, 30 December 1941–10 October 1945, (also Chief of Naval Operations 1942-45)
Components under this Command
|4||Naval Forces Europe||1917-26.|
|6||Special Service Squadron||1920-40.|
|7||United States Asiatic Fleet||1910–42.|
|6||Special Service Squadron||1920-40.|
|8||United States Asiatic Fleet||1910–42.|
|4||Fleet Marine Force||1939-41.|
|8||United States Asiatic Fleet||1902–07, 1910–42.|
|1||United States Asiatic Fleet||1910–42.|
|2||United States Atlantic Fleet||1941-45.|
|3||United States Pacific Fleet||1941-45.|