United States Sixth Fleet

United States Sixth Fleet
Sixth Fleet
US Sixth Fleet Logo high resolution version.jpg
US Sixth Fleet Logo
Active 1946–Present
Country United States
Branch United States Navy
Type Fleet
Role Direct Fleet Operations
Part of Commander, European Command; Commander, Africa Command
Vice Admiral Frank Craig Pandolfe, USN

The Sixth Fleet is the United States Navy's operational unit and staff of United States Naval Forces Europe. The fleet once had its headquarters in Gaeta, Italy, commanded by a Vice Admiral. However, beginning in 2004, the Sixth Fleet staff was combined with United States Naval Forces Europe staff, up to that time headquartered in London. Since then the staff has operated as a single entity with a four star admiral who serves as Commander, Naval Forces Europe and Commander, Naval Forces Africa. This admiral has a three star Deputy Commander who also carries the title Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet. The staff as a whole is known as Commander, Naval Forces Europe-Africa/Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet or CNE-CNA/C6F) and works from its facilities at Naval Support Activity Naples at the Capodichino site in Naples, Italy.[1] USS Mount Whitney is the Sixth Fleet flagship with its homeport Gaeta, Italy and operating in the Mediterranean Sea.

U.S. Naval forces entering the Mediterranean Sea are assigned ("CHOPed"[2]) to Sixth Fleet. Sixth Fleet has consisted of up to 40 ships, 175 aircraft and 21,000 people, such as in early 2003, when two carrier battlegroups operated in the Mediterranean in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. However, since the submarine tender Emory S. Land, based in La Maddelena in Sardinia, changed homeports to Bremerton, WA, the fleet has just one permanently assigned ship, the Mount Whitney. The fleet typically has a number of frigates and destroyers assigned, as well as those vessels transiting between the East Coast and the Suez. Additionally, since 2005, Sixth Fleet ships have increasingly been operating around Africa, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea.

Sixth Fleet conducts the full range of Maritime Operations and Theater Security Cooperation missions in concert with coalition, joint, interagency and other parties in order to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa. These operations include, but are not limited to, Ballistic Missile Defense, Time Sensitive Targeting,[clarification needed] Maritime Interception Operations,[clarification needed] Expanded Maritime Interception Operations,[clarification needed] Maritime Counter Proliferation Interdiction,[clarification needed] Counter Piracy, Noncombatant Evacuation Operations, Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Indications and Warnings[clarification needed] and Maritime Crisis Response.[clarification needed] Theater Security Cooperation missions include International Military Partnering and Building Partner Capacity.[clarification needed] The commander of the Sixth Fleet is Vice Admiral Frank Craig Pandolfe.[3]


History and recent operations

U.S. ships in Sicily, 1965

The United States has maintained a naval presence in the Mediterranean since the early 19th century, when U.S. Naval forces first engaged the Barbary Pirates to prevent them from interfering with commercial shipping. The earliest battle group was the Mediterranean Squadron.

In 1946, President Truman dispatched the battleship Missouri to the Eastern Mediterranean to counter Soviet threats to Turkey and Iran. The small fleet maintained in the Mediterranean by U.S. Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean was known as Naval Forces Mediterranean and had as its flagship, a destroyer tender, anchored at Naples, Italy. The cruiser Dayton relieved the tender Shenandoah as flagship and began operating with the fleet. The title of Naval Forces Mediterranean was changed to Commander Sixth Task Fleet and then, in 1950, Commander, Sixth Fleet.

In 1957, Operation Deep Water[clarification needed] took place within the Allied Forces Southern Europe area of responsibility. It was conducted by Naval Striking and Support Forces Southern Europe (STRIKFORSOUTH), commanded by Vice Admiral Charles R. Brown, USN, who also commanded the Sixth Fleet.[4][5] STRIKEFORSOUTH was effectively the NATO designation for the U.S. Sixth Fleet, though additional NATO headquarters personnel would eventually be assigned, while maintaining American control over its nuclear weapons on board U.S. aircraft carrier as mandated by the Atomic Energy Act of 1946.[6] The geographical focus of naval operations in the Mediterranean Basin was consistent with U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps strategic doctrine as articulated by Samuel P. Huntington in his seminal article "National Policy and the Transoceanic Navy" published in May 1954 in the United States Naval Institute journal Proceedings These were reflected in the planning and execution of Operation Deep Water.[7]

Sixth Fleet operated in support of American forces during Operation Blue Bat in Lebanon in 1958. During the Cold War, the Sixth Fleet had several confrontations with the Soviet Navy's 5th Operational Squadron,[citation needed] notably during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

The Sixth Fleet provided military, logistical and humanitarian assistance to support NATO operations in Kosovo from the beginning of Operation Allied Force. It also participated in Operation Shining Hope and Operation Joint Guardian. In March 2011, the fleet was involved in operations in Libya pursuant to Security Council resolution 1973.


The Sixth Fleet is operationally organized into task forces. Each task force is responsible to the Sixth Fleet Commander for specific functions related to assigned units. When strike groups deploy to the Mediterranean from the Atlantic they 'inchop' (transfer command) from Second Fleet to Sixth Fleet.

Task Force 60

Destroyer Squadron 60 (DESRON SIX ZERO) was established on 19 February 2003. It was homeported in Gaeta, Italy.[8] The establishment of Destroyer Squadron Sixty provided CNE/COMSIXTHFLT with a permanently assigned destroyer squadron, increasing the Sixth Fleet's options when undertaking national and theater level tasking.

From November 2007 to April 2008, TF 60's commander served as Commander Africa Partnership Station with an international staff operating off West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.

He also serves as Commander, Task Force 365, Task Force West and Central Africa.[9]

This Task Force 60 is the Sixth Fleet's Battle Force. When any Carrier Strike Group enters into the Mediterranean control zone it is usually designated TF 60 and the battle group commander, a one or two-star flag officer, assumes duties as COM TF 60 from COMDESRON 60. The Task Force can be composed of one or more aircraft carriers, each with an accompanying complement of approximately six cruisers and destroyers. On board the aircraft carrier is an air wing of 65–85 aircraft. This air wing is the primary striking arm of the Strike Group, and includes attack, fighter, anti-submarine, and reconnaissance aircraft. Ships accompanying the carrier serve as defensive and offensive platforms with duties involving anti-aircraft, surface and submarine warfare. In addition to its major role of controlling the seas, the Strike Group can also project its power over land.

Task Group 60.4 has most recently[when?] been holding the Africa Partnership Station role, and Task Group 60.5 seems now to be permanently assigned as the Southeast Africa Task Group.[citation needed] The Group may be named the South and East Africa Task Group, and holds the alternate designation of Task Force 363.[10]

As of 2011 Task Force 60 will normally be the commander of Naval Task Force Europe and Africa.[11] Any naval unit within the USEUCOM or USAFRICOM AOR may be assigned to TF 60 as required upon signal from the Commander of the Sixth Fleet.

Task Force 61, Amphibious Assault Force

Task Force 61 was the Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group. It is composed of approximately three amphibious ships and their embarked landing craft. From these ships, United States Marine ground forces can move ashore by sea and air in amphibious assault or emergency evacuation missions. Once ashore, the ships of Task Force 61 logistically support the ground forces, until the objective of the landing has been accomplished, and the Marine Forces return to the ships.

As of 2011, according to official NavEur/NavAf Public Affairs sources, Task Force 61 will normally be the commander of the deployed Carrier Strike Group (CSG) and will exercise operational control of all units assigned to TF61 operating in the USEUCOM or USAFRICOM AOR.

Task Force 62, Landing Force (Marine Expeditionary Unit)

Task Force 62 is the combat-ready ground force composed of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) of approximately 1,900 Marines. Transported in Task Force 61 ships, the MEU is equipped with armor, artillery, and transport helicopters that enable it to conduct operations ashore, or evacuate civilians from troubled areas. This MEU is usually from II MEF on the East Coast.

As of 2011, according to official Public Affairs sources, Task Force 62 will normally be the commander of the deployed Ambhibious Ready Group (ARG) and will exercise operational control of all units assigned to TF61 operating in the USEUCOM or USAFRICOM AOR.

Task Force 63 Logistics Force

Task Force 63 is the Logistics Force. Task Force 63 and Military Sealift Command's Sealift Logistics Command (SEALOGEUR) are two separately named formations that actually operate as a unified one with one staff.[12] Task Force 63 is headquartered at Naples, Italy. Composed of oilers, provision ships, and repair ships, its mission is the delivery of supplies at sea, and effecting repairs to other ships and equipment of the Fleet. Commander, Task Force 63 (CTF-63) is the operational commander of all the U.S. 6th Fleet air and sea logistics. While in theater, Military Sealift Command's Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force and Special Mission ships report to CTF-63 along with cargo planes that support 6th Fleet and U.S. European Command logistics missions.

CTF-63 is also responsible for ordering and tracking spare parts and supplies being delivered to ships in theater. CTF-63 is the immediate operational commander of Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron One (MPSRON ONE) based in the Mediterranean Sea. The ships of MPSRON One are deployed year-round. This pre-positions U.S. military cargo at sea. Should a military or humanitarian crisis arise in theater, the squadron can deliver its cargo ashore, enabling a faster U.S. response.

Task Force 64 Special Operations

The first incarnation of Task Force 64 consisted of nuclear-powered submarines armed with long-range strategic missiles (SSBN). Until the end of the 1970s these ships were homeported in Naval Station Rota, Spain. The mission was strategic deterrence. It is extremely unlikely that any SSBNs are actually still assigned or operate with CNE/C6F in the Mediterranean.

Previously, CTF 64 was responsible for ballistic missile submarines assigned to the Sixth Fleet. CTF 64's administrative title, was Commander Submarine Group 8. ComSubGru 8's operational functions were accomplished through four Task Forces: CTF 64, CTF 69 (attack submarines), NATO's CTF 442, or deployed SSBNs and CTF 439, the operational title for Commander Submarines Allied Naval Forces South—the rear admiral's NATO hat. (Globalsecurity.org)

TF 64 then became a Special Operation force, previously headquartered by the now-disbanded Naval Special Warfare Unit 10 at Rota, Spain. NSWU 10 disbanded in 2005, and it is now unclear whether CTF 64 is operating currently. During the initial stages of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Task Force 64 became the administrative command structure created to interface with all non-UK/US special forces and smaller ground combat forces provided by various national governments and under American operational control. This may have been because NSWU 10 elements deployed to Afghanistan to form part of the HQ.

As of 2011, according to official U.S. Navy Public Affairs contributions to wikipedia, Task Force 64 will not normally be assigned, but may be as required.

Task Force 65

Task Force 65/Destroyer Squadron SIX ZERO located in Naples, Italy. Commander, Task Force 65/Commander Destroyer Squadron SIX ZERO exercises operational and tactical control of all forward deployed surface combatants operating in the USEUCOM and USAFRICOM AORs under the direction of Naval Forces Europe/Africa. TF 65 surface combatants execute myriad operations from as far North as the Norwegian Sea and south to the Cape of Good Hope including Ballisitic Missile Defense, Sea Lines of Communication enforcement, Maritime Interdiction Operations, direct support to NATO combined and Joint operations and exercises, Counter-terrorism operations, Counter-piracy operations, Africa Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership operations, whole of government Africa Partnership Station deployments and Theater Security Cooperation activities both inport and underway.

It can be seen from this 2011 official description that the CDS 60 task force designator has been switched from TF 60 to TF 65.

Task Force 66

Task Force 66 will usually be the commander of the deployed Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and will exercise operational control of all units assigned to TF66 operating in the USEUCOM or USAFRICOM AOR.

Task Force 68

Task Force 68 is the Navy Expeditionary Combat Force. Units typically assigned to TF 68 are Explosive Ordnance Disposal units, Naval Construction units and Marines which make up the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Teams (FAST).

Task Force 67 Land-Based Maritime Patrol Aircraft

Task Force 67 is composed of land-based maritime patrol aircraft. These aircraft operate over the waters of the Mediterranean in anti-submarine, reconnaissance, surveillance, and mining roles. In the past, Task Force 67's has been provided by Commander, Fleet Air Mediterranean (COMFLTAIRMED), but it is unclear whether FLTAIRMED still exists. The Task Force commander also previously held the role of NATO AFSOUTH's Commander, Maritime Air, Allied Naval Forces South with the NATO task force designator TF 431.

Task Force organisation 1999:[13]

  • TG-67.1 Maritime Surv & Recce Det Sigonella (Sicily)
    • TU-67.1.1 Patrol Squadron Sigonella (VP)
  • TG-67.2 Maritime Surv & Recce Det Rota (Spain)
    • TU-67.2.1 Patrol Squadron Rota (when activated; VP)
  • TG-67.3 Patrol Squadron, Souda Bay, (Crete)(When activated)
  • TG-67.4 VQ-2 (Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two)(Whidbey Island, WA)(EP-3)
  • TG-67.8 CROF Souda Bay, Crete

As of 2011, officially Task Force 67's mission is to provide responsive, interoperable, and expeditionary combat ready maritime patrol aircraft and supporting forces to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe/Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Africa and Commander, U.S. SIXTH Fleet (CNE-CNA-C6F), NATO and Unified Commanders to conduct effective Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), maintain Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), enhance regional stability, promote cooperative maritime safety and security, and be decisive while conducting overseas contingency operations.

Task Force 68, Maritime Force Protection Force

Established 17 March 2005, CTF 68 is to command force protection forces such as construction battalions, mobile mine assembly units, and Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Teams (FAST) platoons which are part of Marine Corps Security Force Company Europe (MCSFCoEUR).

A possibly more recent mission for CTF 68 is Commander, Task Force SIX EIGHT conducts Explosive Ordnance Disposal operations, Naval Construction, Expeditionary Security and Theater Security Cooperation in order to maintain strategic assess, develop interoperability with coalition, joint, inter-agency and other partners, and increase security and stability in Europe and Africa. On order, conduct Point and Area Defense to protect and defend critical infrastructure and High Value Assets against terrorist attack. Be prepared to conduct Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations.

Task Force 66/69 Submarine Warfare

Task Force 66/69 is responsible for planning and coordinating area submarine and anti-submarine warfare operations in the Mediterranean. Specifically, Task Force 69 is composed of attack submarines that provide capability to destroy enemy surface ships and submarines, as well as protect other Sixth Fleet ships from attack.

As of 2011, according to official U.S., Navy public affairs contributions to wikipedia, Task Force 69 is the Submarine Force and exercises operational control of all Submarine assets in the USEUCOM or USAFRICOM AOR.

Past Command ships

Sixth Fleet Commanders

  1. June 1946 – July 1948 VADM Bernhard Bieri
  2. July 1948 – November 1949 VADM Forrest Sherman
  3. November 1949 – March 1951 VADM John Ballentine
  4. March 1951 – May 1952 VADM Matthias Gardner
  5. May 1952 – March 1954 VADM John Cassady
  6. June 1954 – March 1955 VADM Thomas Combs
  7. March 1955 – April 1956 VADM Ralph Ofstie
  8. April 1956 – August 1956 VADM H.D. Felt
  9. August 1956 – September 1958 VADM Charles Brown
  10. Sept 1958 – September 1959 VADM Clarence Ekstrom
  11. September 1959 – July 1961 VADM George Anderson
  12. July 1961 – March 1963 VADM David McDonald
  13. March 1963 – June 1964 VADM William Gentner
  14. June 1964 – September 1966 VADM William Ellis
  15. September 1966 – April 1967 VADM Frederick Ashworth
  16. April 1967 – August 1968 VADM William Martin
  17. August 1968-August 1970 VADM David Richardson
  18. August 1970-October 1971 VADM Isaac C. Kidd Jr.
  19. October 1971- June 1973 VADM Gerald Miller
  20. June 1973-September 1974 VADM Daniel Murphy
  21. September 1974-August 1976 VADM Frederick Turner
  22. August 1976-September 1978 VADM Harry Train II
  23. September 1978-July 1979 VADM James Watkins
  24. July 1979 – June 1981 VADM William Small
  25. June 1981 – July 1983 VADM William Rowden
  26. July 1983 – February 1985 VADM Edward Martin
  27. February 1985-June 1986 VADM Frank Kelso II
  28. June 1986 – August 1988 VADM Kendall Moranville
  29. August 1988 – November 1990 VADM J.D. Williams
  30. November 1990- July 1992 VADM William Owens
  31. July 1992 – December 1993 VADM Thomas Lopez
  32. December 1993 – April 1995 VADM Joseph Prueher
  33. April 1995-July 1996 VADM Donald Pilling
  34. July 1996 – July 1998 VADM Charles Abbot
  35. July 1998-October 2000 VADM Daniel Murphy Jr
  36. October 2000-October 2001 VADM Gregory Johnson
  37. October 2001-November 2003 VADM Scott Fry
  38. November 2003- May 2005 VADM H. G. Ulrich III
  39. May 2005 – September 2007 VADM J. “Boomer” Stufflebeem
  40. September 2007 – August 2008 VADM James A. Winnefeld, Jr.
  41. August 2008 – November 2009 VADM Bruce W. Clingan
  42. November 2009 – October 2011 VADM Harry Harris
  43. October 2011 - Present VADM Frank Craig Pandolfe

See also


  1. ^ - Order amalgamating Sixth Fleet and Naval Forces Europe staffs
  2. ^ Abbreviation for Change of Operational Control
  3. ^ Stars and Stripes, "Pandolfe takes command of 6th Fleet", October 3, 2011.
  4. ^ "Emergency Call". TIME. 30 September 1957. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,891351,00.html. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  5. ^ "All Ashore". TIME. 1957-10-07. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,809962,00.html. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  6. ^ Sean M., Maloney (1991). "Securing Command of the Sea: NATO Naval Planning, 1948–1954" (in English). thesis. University of New Brunswick. pp. 234–41; 246–7; 291–4. http://www.seanmmaloney.com/articles/i0001.html. Retrieved September 14, 2011. "Subsequently published by the United States Naval Institute" 
  7. ^ Huntington, Samuel P. (1954). "National Policy and the Transoceanic Navy". Proceedings. United States Naval Institute. http://blog.usni.org/2009/03/09/from-our-archive-national-policy-and-the-transoceanic-navy-by-samuel-p-huntington/. Retrieved 2011-09-14. "republished online 2009" 
  8. ^ http://benefits.military.com/misc/installations/Base_Content.jsp?id=2410 - Military Installations Guide 2.0 NSA Gaeta, Italy - re Destroyer Squadron 60
  9. ^ Africa Partnership Station: U.S. Naval Operations in West & Central Africa
  10. ^ Africa Command, [1], accessed January 2009
  11. ^ according to NavEur/NavAf official Public Affairs sources
  13. ^ This Task Force organization for TF-67 was taken from “CTF-67 Command History CY-97”, sourced from FLTAIRMED website, 29 May 1999.

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