Feb 1

1 February 1941 Fleet Reorganization

Tuesday, February 1, 2011 12:01 AM


70 years ago today, the United States Fleet was reorganized into Atlantic, Pacific, and Asiatic fleets. The Atlantic and Pacific fleets had been established from their 19th century predecessors in 1906/1907, but by the end of World War I most of the Navy’s combat power was in the Atlantic. In 1922 the Secretary of the Navy had established a single United States Fleet with four permanent subordinate organizations that moved periodically between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans: the Battle Fleet, the Scouting Fleet, the Control Force (a skeleton blockade and base-seizing force), and the Fleet Base Force providing fleet logistics. Smaller reorganizations continued during the interwar period, and by the end of the 1930s most of the Navy’s combat power was in the Pacific in anticipation of a possible war with Japan. But by early 1941 there was an actual, not potential, war in the Atlantic (although the U.S. was not then in it), and the 1 February reorganization recognized the fact that a single operational fleet was not sufficient for an increasingly likely two-ocean war. The United States Fleet remained in existence but mainly as an administrative organization, and the Commander in Chief (CINC) was the senior of the three fleet CINCs on additional duty. Immediately after the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, a separate CINC U.S. Fleet was reestablished with authority over the other fleets. Early in 1942 the duties of Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet were consolidated with those of CNO in the person of Admiral Ernest J. King. The position of CINC U.S. Fleet was finally abolished in October 1945.

  • Jim Valle

    In conditions of deepest secrecy the Atlantic Fleet began combat operations against the German U-Boat fleet in June of 1941. While escorting convoys to Iceland and the Mid-Ocean Meeting Point (MOMP) several U-boats were depth charged and the USS Kearney was torpedoed and damaged while the USS Ruben James was sunk with only 46 survivors. After PearlHarbor most of the Atlantic Fleet’s battleships were sent to the West Coast and operated out of San Francisco while waiting to be modernized for Pacific operations.