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Pacific Fleet - Command History
the nationís proud history, the U.S. Navy has been a dutiful
servant of the nation and its people, and a champion of American
goals abroad. The U.S. Pacific Fleet has played an integral role in
furthering those goals by providing a stabilizing influence in a
vast ocean area during periods of tension and conflict.
The U.S. Pacific Fleet's contribution to our Navy's proud
heritage dates back to 1821 with the establishment of the
Pacific Squadron, the first permanent U.S. naval presence in the
region. This small force confined its activities initially to
the waters off South America, then expanded its scope to include
the Western Pacific in 1835, when the East India Squadron joined
the force. The extent of its responsibility was further enlarged
in the 1850s when California and Oregon were annexed.
importance of U.S. Pacific naval forces as an instrument of
foreign policy blossomed in July 1853, when Commodore Matthew C.
Perry delivered a letter from President Millard Fillmore seeking
diplomatic and trade relations between the United States and
Japan. Less than nine months later, in March 1854, Commodore
Perry negotiated and signed a treaty between the two countries,
opening Japan to trade with other nations for the first time in
Spanish-American War of 1898 resulted in further expansion of
American naval power in the Pacific. Commodore George Dewey led
America's Asiatic Squadron into Manila Bay for the first
engagement of the war, on May 1, 1898. When the battle ended
seven hours later, eight Spanish warships had been destroyed.
Two months later, off the coast of Cavite, Philippines,
Commodore Dewey issued the famous order, "You may fire when
ready, Gridley," and dealt the final blow to the remaining
Spanish fleet. This decisive victory left the United States in
possession of former Spanish territory in the Philippines and
the Mariana Islands. More importantly, it established the United
States as a major maritime power.
Asiatic and Pacific squadrons remained separate commands until
April 15, 1907, when they were combined to form the United
States Pacific Fleet. In 1922, the Pacific and Atlantic Fleets
were combined to form the United States Fleet, which positioned
a main body of ships in the Pacific and a scouting fleet in the
Atlantic. For the first time, the major weight of American
seapower was assigned to the Pacific.
fragile peace during the years between the world wars began to
whither in the late 1930s with the emergence of Germany and
Japan as military threats. With the fall of France and England
standing alone, the possibility of American involvement in the
war saw the U.S. Navy again split into two separate fleets.
Pacific Fleet established its new headquarters at Pearl Harbor
on Feb. 1, 1941. Ten months later, on Dec. 7, Japanese warplanes
attacked ships and installations at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere
on Oahu without warning, thrusting America into World War II.
war in the Pacific raised to glory some of history's finest
naval commanders, legendary names including Nimitz, Halsey and
Spruance. Likewise, America's most decisive blows toward total
victory in World War II were struck here. This dark chapter in
world history would finally end with the formal surrender of the
Japanese aboard USS Missouri (BB 63).
years of peace following World War II came to an end on June 26,
1950, when North Korean troops attacked South Korea. The Pacific
Fleet responded by providing air strikes from offshore aircraft
carriers and conducting the amphibious assault at Inchon.
Control of the seas once again gave U.S. and other United
Nations forces the decisive advantage. A cease-fire signed on
July 27, 1953, halted the fighting.
a decade of peaceful operations, the Pacific Fleet was again
called to war, this time in Southeast Asia. By mid-1968 the
Pacific Fleet was actively engaged in the Vietnam conflict, with
225 ships committed to operations in the South China Sea. In
addition to providing air support from aircraft carriers
operating off the coast, Pacific Fleet Sailors patrolled the
Mekong River in gunboats. The Vietnam cease-fire was signed on
Jan. 27, 1973.
the post-Vietnam period, the Pacific Fleet increased operations
with allied navies, thereby ensuring freedom of the seas for all
nations. Pacific Fleet responsibilities expanded to include the
Indian Ocean, where aircraft carrier battle groups operate in
support of vital U.S. national interests in that volatile part
of the world.
Aug. 4, 1990, Pacific Fleet Navy and Marine Corps forces began
deploying to the Persian Gulf and North Arabian Sea in support
of Operation Desert Shield. More than 50 Pacific Fleet ships,
including the USS Independence (CV 62), USS Midway (CV 41), USS
Ranger (CV 61) and USS Missouri (BB 63) battle groups and
approximately 20 amphibious ships, were ultimately deployed. The
ships and personnel were initially used to support economic
sanctions set up against Iraq after it invaded Kuwait. Operation
Desert Storm began Jan. 16, 1991, after Iraq failed to meet a
Jan. 15, 1991 deadline to leave Kuwait.
of the USS Tarawa (LHA 1) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG)
demonstrated the flexibility of naval forces in May 1991. While
returning from combat duty in the Persian Gulf, the Tarawa ARG
served as the centerpiece of humanitarian relief operations in
cyclone-devastated Bangladesh. In the summer of 1991, Seventh
Fleet ships converged on the Philippines to evacuate U.S.
military and families after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.
Operation Restore Hope in 1992-93, USS Rushmore (LSD 47)
spearheaded a joint task force landing to provide humanitarian
aid to drought-stricken Somalia. Naval forces also continued
vital presence operations in the volatile Persian Gulf region,
supporting Operation Southern Watch, which controlled and
monitored airspace over Southern Iraq.
December 1998, ships of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Carrier
Battle Group and Carrier Air Wing 11 participated in Operation
Desert Fox, striking key military targets in Iraq with a
combination of attack aircraft and cruise missiles, launched
from USS Antietam (CG 54), USS Princeton (CG 59), USS Paul
Hamilton (DDG 60) and other Pacific Fleet ships.
the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., on Sept.
11, 2001, Pacific Fleet units again answered the call. On Oct.
7, less than a month after the attack, aircraft from USS Carl
Vinson (CVN 70) and surface ships conducted the first strikes on
terrorist strongholds in Afghanistan, launching Operation
Enduring Freedom. The following year, dozens of Pacific Fleet
ships served in the Arabian Sea, including USS Kitty Hawk (CV
63), USS Constellation (CV 64), USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).
January 2003, the Pacific Fleet deployed a seven-ship Amphibious
Task Force West, led by USS Boxer (LHD 4) and USS Bonhomme
Richard (LHD 6), to the U.S. Central Command. In February, the
Pacific Fleet also deployed the USS Kitty Hawk Battle Group
there, to serve alongside the USS Abraham Lincoln and USS
Constellation Battle Groups in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
recently, the Pacific Fleet has taken on a larger role in
providing humanitarian relief throughout the region. The USS
Abraham Lincoln helped victims of the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami
that devastated coastal areas from Indonesia to Africa. In 2006,
USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) visited the Philippines, Bangladesh,
Indonesia and East Timor, providing much-needed medical service
to thousands of people in those nations. In 2007, USS Peleliu (LHA
5) deployed on a similar Pacific Partnership mission, providing
medical and dental services as well as public works construction
work in the Philippines, Vietnam, the Solomon Islands, the
Marshall Islands and Papua New Guinea.
the Pacific Fleet remains the world's largest naval command,
extending from the West Coast of the United States to the
eastern coast of Africa, from the North Pole to the South Pole,
encompassing three oceans, six continents, and more than half
the Earthís surface.
The approximately 178
ships, 1,500 aircraft and 160,000 Sailors, Marines and Civilians
of the Pacific Fleet continue to be a credibly led, combat-ready
and surge-ready Fleet prepared in peace, crisis or war. The U.S.
Pacific Fleet builds trust and cooperation with our partners to
advance Asia-Pacific regional security and prosperity.
US Navy Pacific Fleet Command
- Hawaii )