United States Naval Forces Europe

United States Naval Forces Europe
United States Naval Forces Europe emblem

United States Naval Forces Europe is the United States Navy component of the United States European Command and provides forces for United States African Command.

Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe (COMUSNAVEUR) provides overall command, operational control, and coordination of U.S. Naval Forces in the European Command area of responsibility. As the Navy component in Europe, COMUSNAVEUR, plans, conducts, and supports naval operations in the European theater during peacetime, contingencies, in general war and as tasked by Commander, U.S. European Command. With its headquarters now at Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy, COMUSNAVEUR directs all its naval operations through Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet (COMSIXTHFLT) based in Gaeta, Italy, and support activities ashore through Commander, Navy Region Europe (CNRE), headquartered in Naples, Italy. As of 2010, Naval Forces Europe is commanded by Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, who also serves as NATO's Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples. By a directive of 20 September 2005, Naval Forces Europe and Sixth Fleet were merged



The earliest presence of U.S. Navy forces in Europe was the Mediterranean Squadron.the European Squadron following the American Civil War, the forces were combined as part of the North Atlantic Fleet in 1906. In 1917, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters was established for the duration of World War I.

In 1922, Naval Forces, Europe was established. The interwar history of this command is uncertain, but in March 1942, the duties of the existing Special Naval Observer London were expanded to command naval forces. Commander, Naval Forces, Europe was established to maintain Navy bases in the United Kingdom and to report intelligence and research data being provided by Allied intelligence organizations. Numerous liaison channels were opened with the British Government and with governments in exile. The command also assisted in the planning and preparation of the invasions of North Africa and France. By 1944 the headquarters had been established at 20 Grosvenor Square, in central London. The building was only vacated by the Navy when the HQ moved to Italy in 2009.

When Admiral Harold R. Stark became COMNAVEUR in April 1942, he was given the additional duties as Commander, United States Twelfth Fleet. The fleet, which operated in European waters, consisted of one battleship, two cruisers, an aircraft carrier and six destroyers.

By autumn of 1945, the chief function of the U.S. Navy in the occupied countries was completed; enemy naval forces had been disarmed, war material had been located and accounted for, and harbors had been reopened and were in operation. As operational emphasis changed and the geographical area expanded, the command’s title was changed to more specifically define the Navy’s role. In November 1946, COMNAVEUR became COMNELM (Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean) and six months later, in April 1947, the title was changed once again, this time to Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean (CINCNELM). A Northern European Force of five to six ships (cruisers and destroyers) were active from 1946 to 1956.[1]

Admiral Robert B. Carney became CINCNELM in December 1950. In June 1951, he assumed additional duty as Commander in Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH), and the CINCNELM Headquarters was moved from London to Naples. In June 1952, the two commands were separated: the CINCNELM Headquarters returned to London and Admiral Jerauld Wright became CINCNELM and Admiral Carney remained in Naples as CINCSOUTH. In September 1958, Admiral James L. Holloway, Jr., CINCNELM, was assigned additional duty as U.S. Commander Eastern Atlantic (USCOMEASTLANT). Under the Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, USCOMEASTLANT provided intelligence and logistic support for LANTFLT units deployed in the USCOMEASTLANT area.

In February 1960, the title of the command was changed to Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR) and the CINCNELM title was retained for command in the Middle East from Turkey and Egypt to the middle of the Indian Ocean. Although these were separate commands, they were placed under the control of one commander. The CINCNELM command was disestablished on 1 February 1964. During most of the intervening years, CINCUSNAVEUR has exercised direct command over four subordinate commanders: Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet (COMSIXTHFLT); Commander, Fleet Air Mediterranean (COMFAIRMED);[2] Commander, Middle East Force (COMIDEASTFOR) (until 1983); and Commander, U.S. Naval Activities, United Kingdom (COMNAVACT UK). Because of the increased sensitivity of the Persian Gulf area, COMIDEASTFOR was assigned to the administrative command of COMUSNAVCENT (Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command) on 1 October 1983.

CINCSOUTH and CINCUSNAVEUR once again shared an Admiral when Admiral William J. Crowe, Jr., who was CINCSOUTH, also took the title of CINCUSNAVEUR on 1 January 1983. Admiral Crowe retained his NATO command and headquarters in Naples, Italy. Vice Admiral Ronald J. Hays, in London, became Deputy CINCUSNAVEUR and retained the title of USCOMEASTLANT. The CINCUSNAVEUR Headquarters remained in London with Admiral Crowe spending time at both locations. The responsibility of U.S. Commander Eastern Atlantic was added to that of the Commander in Chief, Allied Forces, Southern Europe and Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe on 28 February 1989 during Admiral James Buchanan Busey, IV’s assignment as Commander in Chief.

Post Cold War

In September 1996 it was agreed that CINCUSNAVEUR could support CINCLANTFLT forces without the USCOMEASTLANT designation.

In 2002, the command changed its name to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe (COMUSNAVEUR).

On 15 March 2004, NATO’s Joint Force Command (JFC) Naples was activated and its predecessor command, Allied Forces Southern Europe was deactivated.

COMUSNAVEUR continues to be dual-hatted as COMJFC Naples. In August 2005 COMUSNAVEUR headquarters completed its relocation to Naples, Italy from London in the United Kingdom. It is now co-located with his NATO headquarters. U.S. Naval Activities, United Kingdom was deactivated in September 2007.

USNAVEUR is now focusing more attention on Africa, specifically the Gulf of Guinea region, partially because of the increasing importance of the oil reserves there. Ships are now often deploying to aid regional African navies, of which the most important in the region is the Nigerian Navy. Connected with this effort, a new geographic combatant command, United States Africa Command, is being stood up and is scheduled for completion in September 2008, which may mean a realignment of USN responsibilities for the West African area. As a result, NAVEUR is now sometimes referred to as US Naval Forces Europe-Africa and even NAVAF. There is currently however no approved plan to establish a separate Naval Forces Africa HQ. Two new task groups are active, Commander Task Group 60.4 which runs the Africa Partnership Station deployment series, and Commander Task Group 60.5, the Southeast Africa Task Group.


Commander Dates
VADM Robert L. Ghormley, Special Naval Observer August 1940 to March 1942
VADM Robert L. Ghormley, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe (COMNAVEUR) March 1942 to April 1942
ADM Harold R. Stark, COMNAVEUR April 1942 to August 1945
ADM H. Kent Hewitt, COMNAVEUR August 1945 to September 1946
ADM Richard L. Conolly, COMNAVEUR. Command changed to: Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean (COMNELM) in November 1946 September 1946 to April 1947
ADM Richard L. Conolly, title changed to: Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean (CINCNELM) April 1947 to December 1950
ADM Robert B. Carney, CINCNELM December 1950 to June 1952
ADM Jerauld Wright, CINCNELM Additional duty assigned in August 1953: Commander, Subordinate Command USLANTFLT June 1952 to March 1954
ADM J.H. Cassady, CINCNELM & COMSCOMLANTFLT March 1954 to May 1956
ADM James L. Holloway, Jr., CINCNELM & COMSCOMLANTFLT. Command changed in September 1958 to: U.S. Commander Eastern Atlantic February 1958 to March 1959
ADM Robert L. Dennison, CINCNELM & USCOMEASTLANT March 1959 to February 1960
ADM Harold P. Smith, CINCNELM, USCOMEASTLANT & CINCUSNAVEUR. Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe established February 1960 to April 1963
ADM David L. McDonald, CINCUSNAVEUR, CINCNELM & USCOMEASTLANT April 1963 to June 1963
ADM Charles D. Griffin, CINCUSNAVEUR, CINCNELM & USCOMEASTLANT. 1 December 1963, CINCNELM was disestablished. June 1963 to March 1965
ADM John S. Thach, CINCUSNAVEUR & USCOMEASTLANT March 1965 to May 1967
ADM John S. McCain, Jr., CINCUSNAVEUR & USCOMEASTLANT May 1967 to July 1968
ADM Waldemar F.A. Wendt, CINCUSNAVEUR & USCOMEASTLANT July 1968 to June 1971
ADM William F. Bringle, CINCUSNAVEUR & USCOMEASTLANT June 1971 to August 1973
ADM W.H. Bagley, CINCUSNAVEUR & USCOMEASTLANT August 1973 to May 1974
ADM Harold R. Shear, CINCUSNAVEUR & USCOMEASTLANT May 1974 to May 1975
ADM David H. Bagley, CINCUSNAVEUR & USCOMEASTLANT May 1975 to August 1977
VADM Joseph P. Moorer, CINCUSNAVEUR & USCOMEASTLANT August 1977 to September 1980
VADM Ronald J. Hays, CINCUSNAVEUR & USCOMEASTLANT; Deputy CINCUSNAVEUR from Jan-Mar 1983 Sep 1980 to Jan 1983
ADM William J. Crowe, Jr., CINCSOUTH (NATO) and CINCUSNAVEUR January 1983 to May 1983
ADM William N. Small, CINCUSNAVEUR & CINCSOUTH May 1983 to May 1985
ADM Lee Baggett, Jr., CINCUSNAVEUR & CINCSOUTH May 1985 to November 1985
ADM Arthur S. Moreau, Jr., CINCUSNAVEUR & CINCSOUTH November 1985 to December 1986
ADM James B. Busey, CINCUSNAVEUR & CINCSOUTH. Became USCOMEASTLANT in February 1989 March 1987 to May 1989
ADM Jonathan T. Howe, CINCUSNAVEUR, CINCSOUTH & USCOMEASTLANT May 1989 to December 1991
ADM Jeremy M. Boorda, CINCUSNAVEUR, CINCSOUTH & USCOMEASTLANT December 1991 to April 1994
ADM Leighton W. Smith, Jr., CINCUSNAVEUR, CINCSOUTH & USCOMEASTLANT April 1994 to July 1996
ADM T. Joseph Lopez, CINCUSNAVEUR, CINCSOUTH & USCOMEASTLANT USCOMEASTLANT title eliminated 9 April 97 July 1996 to October 1998
ADM James O. Ellis, CINCUSNAVEUR & CINCSOUTH October 1998 to October 2001
ADM Gregory G. Johnson, CINCUSNAVEUR & CINCSOUTH. Title changed to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe (COMUSNAVEUR) in October 2002 and COMJFC Naples in March 2004 October 2001 to October 2004
ADM Michael Mullen, COMUSNAVEUR & COMJFC Naples October 2004 to May 2005
ADM Harry Ulrich, COMUSNAVEUR & COMJFC Naples May 2005 to November 2007
ADM Mark P. Fitzgerald, COMUSNAVEUR, COMUSNAVAF & COMJFC Naples November 2007 to October 2010
ADM Samuel J. Locklear III, COMUSNAVEUR, COMUSNAVAF & COMJFC Naples October 2010 to Present


  1. ^ Peter M. Swartz, Captain, USN (Retired), Colloqium on Contemporary History, September 2003. Retrieved June 2008.
  2. ^ Disbanded 20 September 2005, http://neds.daps.dla.mil/Directives/notices/3111_144.pdf
  • This article contains information from a U.S. Navy web site and is in the public domain.

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