US Navy marks return of Cold War-era fleet

US Vice Adm Andrew "Woody" Lewis takes part in ceremonial opening of the US Navy 2nd Fleet aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS George H W Bush (CVN 77) on August 24, 2018. US Navy

The US Navy has marked the official resurrection of a disbanded, Cold War-era fleet that was scrapped in 2011 and is returning amid heightened tensions with Russia.

In May, the Navy had announced it was bringing back the 2nd Fleet, which played a key role during the Cold War years with operations in the North Atlantic and supporting US naval forces in the Mediterranean.

The fleet, first stood up in 1950, was scrapped for cost-saving reasons during a time of reduced tensions with Moscow. It played a key role during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when its ships set a blockade to stop Soviet ships reaching the island.

The fleet will be responsible for US naval forces along the US East Coast as well as the North Atlantic region. "This is the United States' and the US Navy's dynamic response to a dynamic security environment," Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, said at a ceremony aboard the USS George HW Bush on Friday.

"The 2nd Fleet will be our spearhead... for the Atlantic, maintaining America's maritime superiority that will lead to maintaining our security, our influence and our prosperity around the world."

The national defence strategy of President Donald Trump's administration names China and Russia as America's biggest threats and points to their increasing assertiveness and drive for new weapons such as hypersonic missiles and advanced torpedoes.

Russian planes and ships have in recent months made multiple incursions in the North Atlantic close to the airspace and territorial waters of US-Nato allies, including Britain. Nato naval officials late last year also reported Russian submarines probing underseas data cables in the North Atlantic.

Separately, the US military also marked the official activation of a new command to innovate and prepare to counter new types of weapons being developed by Russia and China. The Army Futures Command is headquartered in Austin, Texas and will be headed by a four-star general, with a staff of about 500 civilian and military personnel.

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US Navy marks return of Cold War-era fleet

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