- United States Pacific Fleet
United States Pacific Fleet
Logo of the Commander, USPACFLT
Active 1907–present Allegiance United States of America Branch United States Navy Type Theater Command Part of United States Pacific Command Garrison/HQ Pearl Harbor Naval Base Engagements World War II
Global War on Terrorism
ADM Patrick M. Walsh Notable
James O. Richardson
Husband E. Kimmel
Chester W. Nimitz
Raymond A. Spruance
The United States Pacific Fleet (USPACFLT) is a Pacific Ocean theater-level component command of the United States Navy that provides naval resources under the operational control of the United States Pacific Command. Its home port is at Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hawaii. It is commanded by Admiral Patrick M. Walsh.
A Pacific Fleet was created in 1907 when the Asiatic Squadron and the Pacific Squadron were combined. In 1910, the ships of the First Squadron were organized back into a separate Asiatic Fleet. The fleet in current form dates to the splitting of the United States Fleet into the Atlantic and Pacific fleets prior to World War II.
Until May 1940, the fleet was stationed on the U.S. West Coast. As part of the U.S. response to Japanese expansionism, the fleet was then instructed to assume an advanced position at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Long-term basing at Pearl Harbor was strongly opposed by the commander, Admiral James O. Richardson, who personally protested in Washington. Richardson was relieved by Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, the commander at the time of Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941.
Composition of the Pacific Fleet in May 1941
In 1941, the Pacific Fleet fell under Fourteenth Naval District, commanded by Rear Admiral Claude C. Bloch. On 7 December, the Fleet consisted of the Battle Force, Scouting Force, Base Force, Amphibious Force (ComPhibPac), and the Submarine Force (COMSUBPAC).
The Battle Force consisted of Battleships, Battle Force, made up of three Battleship Divisions (BATDIVs): BB-38 Pennsylvania and BB-39 Arizona with BB-36 Nevada (BatDiv 1); BB-43 Tennessee and BB-44 California with BB-37 Oklahoma (BatDiv2); and BB-45 Colorado, BB-46 Maryland and BB-48 West Virginia (BatDiv 4). These nine battleships were intended to counterbalance the ten battleships of the Imperial Japanese Navy. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, BB-38 Pennsylvania was in dry dock and BB-45 Colorado was being refitted at Bremerton Navy Yard, Washington State. BB-39 Arizona was mated with BB-36 Nevada and BB-37 Oklahoma at that time.
Other components of the Battle Force included Aircraft, Battle Force, with Carrier Division One and Carrier Division Two, plus Cruiser Divisions 4, 5, and 6. The Scouting Force included Cruiser Division Three (USS Richmond, USS Concord, and USS Trenton) and Cruiser Division Nine and Submarines, Scouting Force.
The Amphibious Force was formally known as Commander, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet (ComPhibPac). On 7 December 1941 the Amphibious Force comprised the Army's 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, under Army operational control, the 2nd Marine Division, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, the 2nd Defense Battalion (see Marine defense battalions), and a depot. One of PhibPac's subordinate commands during World War II was Transports, Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, or TransPhibPac. The commander of TransPhibPac was known as ComTransPhibPac.
In December 1941, the fleet consisted of nine battleships, three aircraft carriers, 12 heavy cruisers, eight light cruisers, 50 destroyers, 33 submarines, and 100 patrol bombers. This was approximately the fleet's strength at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
That day, the Japanese Combined Fleet carried out the attack on Pearl Harbor, initiating World War II in the Pacific. The Pacific Fleet's Battle Line was virtually destroyed, forcing the U.S. Navy to rely primarily on aircraft carriers and submarines for many months afterward.
Subsequently Pacific Fleet engagements during World War II included the Battle of Guam, the Marshalls-Gilberts raids, the Doolittle Raid, the Solomon Islands campaign, the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Battle of Midway, the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and the Battle of Okinawa. More minor battles included the Battle of Dutch Harbor. The Submarine Force began a sustained campaign of commerce raiding against Japan's merchant marine, beginning the very first day of the war, which ultimately claimed 1,314 ships totalling about 5.3 million tons (by the imperfect postwar reckoning of the Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee, JANAC).
Since 1945 the Pacific Fleet has been involved in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the two Taiwan Straits Crises, and a number of other operations including the Mayaguez Incident of 1975. The RIMPAC exercise series began in 1971. The very large PACEX '89 in the North Pacific involved the USN, Canadian Navy, Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force, and ROK Navy. At the end of Exercise PACEX '89 a 54 ship formation was assembled for photos. It included the flagship, USS Blue Ridge, the USS Enterprise Battle Group, the USS Carl Vinson Battle Group, two battleship surface action groups formed around the USS New Jersey and USS Missouri, and a Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force task force. Later ships of the Pacific Fleet, notably the Ticonderoga class cruiser USS Mobile Bay provided support to the entry of INTERFET in East Timor in 1999.
As of 2011, the Pacific Fleet consists of the numbered Third and Seventh Fleets, as well as Naval Air Force, Pacific; Commander, Naval Surface Forces Pacific; Naval Submarine Force, Pacific; and other commands.
- ^ Orbat.com/Niehorster, Administrative Order of Battle 7 December 1941
- ^ 7 December, ComSubPac was Admiral Thomas Withers, Jr., who relieved Wilhelm L. Friedell that fall. Blair, Clay, Jr. Silent Victory (New York: Bantam, 1976), pp.83 & 223.
- ^ Cruisers, Battle Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 7.12.1941
- ^ Amphibious Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet
- ^ Blair, pp.877-8.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.