United States Third Fleet

The United States Third Fleet is one of the numbered fleets in the United States Navy. Third Fleet's area of responsibility includes approximately fifty million square miles of the eastern and northern Pacific Ocean areas including the Bering Sea, Alaska, the Aleutian Islands and a sector of the Arctic. Major oil and trade sea lines of communication within this area are critically important to the economic health of the United States and friendly nations throughout the Pacific Rim region.[2]

First established in 1943, the Third Fleet conducted extensive operations against Japanese forces in the Central Pacific during World War II. Deactivated in 1945, the fleet remained inactive until 1973, when it was reactivated and assumed its current responsibilities.

Commander, U.S. Third Fleet
United States Third Fleet insignia 2014
Third Fleet emblem
Active15 March 1943 – 7 October 1945
1 February 1973–present
CountryUnited States of America
BranchUnited States Navy
Part ofUnited States Pacific Fleet
Garrison/HQNaval Base Point Loma
Vice Admiral John D. Alexander[1]
Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey


The Third Fleet plans and executes naval operations in the Pacific Ocean. The fleet provides maritime homeland defense, regional security, and humanitarian operations support through integrated naval and coastguard forces acting as a single Sea Service. It strengthens relations between the U.S. and its allies and partners through joint, inter-agency and multinational exercises and operations like Rim of the Pacific, Pacific Partnership, and Fleet Weeks. The Third Fleet ensures realistic, relevant training to its personnel so they have the necessary skills to promote peace and prevail in conflict.[3]

The Third Fleet is a combat-ready power in control of ships, submarines, and aircraft stationed in California, Washington, and Hawaii. The Third Fleet's sea-going force includes five aircraft carrier strike groups, each consisting of a combination of cruisers, destroyers, and frigates. They also have more than 30 submarines and a dozen supply ships to support the strike groups. Third Fleet's air forces comprises more than 400 Navy aircraft, including F/A-18 Super Hornets, E-2C Hawkeyes, AV-8B Harriers, AH-1Z SuperCobras, and SH-60 Seahawks.[3]


World War II

The Third Fleet was originally formed during World War II on 15 March 1943 under the command of Admiral William F. Halsey. Its on-shore headquarters in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was established on 15 June 1944. The ships of the Third Fleet also formed the basis of the Fifth Fleet, formed on 26 April 1944, which was the designation of the "Big Blue Fleet" when under the command of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance.[N 1] Spruance and Halsey alternated command of the fleet for major operations, allowing the other admiral and his staff time to plan for subsequent operations. A secondary benefit was confusing the Japanese into thinking that there were actually two separate fleets as the fleet designation flipped back and forth.[5]

While under Halsey's command as the Third Fleet, the fleet operated in and around the Solomon Islands, the Philippines, Formosa, Okinawa, the Ryukyu Islands, and the Japanese Home Islands, first with the battleship USS New Jersey and, from May 1945 to the end of the war, the battleship USS Missouri as its flagship. As the Third Fleet, it took part in the Palau Islands campaign of September–November 1944 and the Philippines campaign of 1944–1945, defeated the Imperial Japanese Navy in two of the four major actions – the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea and the Battle off Cape Engaño – that made up the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944, encountered the damaging Typhoon Cobra in December 1944, endured Typhoon Connie in June 1945, and took part in the war's final operations in Japanese waters in the summer of 1945, launching air attacks on Tokyo, the naval base at Kure, and the island of Hokkaidō and bombarding several Japanese coastal cities with naval gunfire.

The British Pacific Fleet was operating as Task Force 57 of the Fifth Fleet when Halsey relieved Spruance of command in May 1945. Like the rest of the Fifth Fleet's ships, the British ships were resubordinated from Spruance's Fifth Fleet to Halsey's Third Fleet. The British Pacific Fleet then constituted Task Force 37 under the Third Fleet's operational command through the end of World War II on 15 August 1945.

The Third Fleet's next major combat operation would have been Operation Olympic, the invasion of Kyushu in the Japanese Home Islands, scheduled to begin on 1 November 1945, during which it would have operated simultaneously with the Fifth Fleet for the first time. The end of the war made this operation unnecessary.

Embarked aboard Missouri, Admiral Halsey led the Third Fleet into Tokyo Bay on 29 August 1945. On 2 September 1945, the documents of surrender of the Japanese Empire ending the war were signed on Missouri's deck. The Third Fleet remained in Japanese waters until late September 1945, when its ships were directed to proceed to the United States West Coast. On 7 October 1945, the Third Fleet was designated a reserve fleet and decommissioned from active status.

Re-establishment and after

USN Fleets (1980s)
The areas of responsibility of the United States Second (marked "2F"), Third ("3F"), Sixth ("6F"), and Seventh ("7F") Fleets during the 1980s.
USN Fleets (2009)
The areas of responsibility of the United States Second (marked "2F"), Third ("3F"), Fourth ("4F"), Fifth ("5F"), Sixth ("6F"), and Seventh ("7F") Fleets in 2009.

On 1 February 1973, following a reorganization of the Pacific Fleet, the Third Fleet was recommissioned as an active fleet and assumed the duties of the former First Fleet and Pacific Anti-Submarine Warfare Force located at Ford Island, Hawaii. Third Fleet's new duties were to train naval forces for overseas deployment and evaluate state-of-the-art technology for fleet use. Additionally, Third Fleet could deploy in the event of a major conflict.

On 26 November 1986, Commander, Third Fleet shifted his flag from his headquarters ashore to resume status as an afloat commander for the first time since World War II, aboard USS Coronado. In August 1991, Third Fleet's commander, his staff and the command ship Coronado shifted homeports to San Diego. In September 2003, Commander, Third Fleet shifted his flag from the command ship Coronado to headquarters ashore at Point Loma, San Diego, California.[6]

USS Ronald Reagan and other Third Fleet ships participated in the International Fleet Review (IFR) commemorating the 100th birthday of the Royal Canadian Navy in Victoria, British Columbia.[7] Joining Ronald Reagan for the naval review were the cruiser Chosin, the destroyer Sampson, and the frigate Ford.[8] The naval review took place 9–12 June 2010, and it involved 21 naval ships and more than 8,000 naval personnel from Canada, the French Navy, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal New Zealand Navy, and the United States.[9]

In 2015, Nora Tyson was installed as the new commander of the Third Fleet, making her the first woman to lead a numbered fleet in the U.S. Navy.[10][11]

Current operations

Third Fleet's primary mission is one of conflict deterrence, but in the event of general war, it would conduct prompt and sustained combat operations at sea. Such operations would be executed well forward and early in a conflict to carry out the primary wartime mission of Third Fleet—the defense of the western sea approaches to the United States, including Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. There are four Carrier Strike Groups reportedly assigned to the Third Fleet: USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and Carrier Strike Group Eleven; USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and Carrier Strike Group One; USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and Carrier Strike Group Nine; and USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) and Carrier Strike Group Three.

In peacetime, Third Fleet continually trains Navy and U.S. Marine Corps forces for their expeditionary warfare mission. Third Fleet training has been designed to ensure that deploying forces are fully prepared for joint operations. All training is conducted within a joint environment—employing joint doctrine, terminology, procedures, command and control—to ensure that forces are ready to join with the other United States armed forces branches under a joint command structure.

Commander, Third Fleet is also designated as a Joint Task Force (JTF) commander. In that capacity, the commander and their staff may be assigned responsibilities for command of joint U.S. forces deployed in response to a specific event or contingency. As such, the JTF commander reports via a joint chain of command to a unified commander. Commander, U.S. Pacific Command is the unified commander in the Pacific theater.

To allow 7th Fleet to focus more resources on a potential North Korean contingency, the 3rd Fleet is building up its ability to operate forces beyond the International Date Line, in areas of the Western Pacific hitherto commanded by 7th Fleet. The "3rd Fleet Forward" concept was announced by U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Scott Swift in 2015, but 3rd Fleet commander Vice Adm. Nora Tyson said at the "WEST 2017" conference that the North Korean threat was a main driver behind this effort:[12]

"What we have done in the past really 18 months is we, 3rd Fleet, have worked very closely with 7th Fleet and PACFLT in developing our, 3rd fleet's, capability to command and control forces forward in the Western Pacific, with the assumption that if something were to happen – and as [Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, Commander 7th Fleet] said, the number-one probability fight-tonight scenario would be on the Korean Peninsula. "If that were the case, the assumption is that [Aucoin] and his team would be pretty busy up there.. working for General Brooks [ComUSFK/CFC/UNC] and 3rd Fleet would be available to provide that command element to handle whatever else may happen in the Pacific Fleet AOR ...be it a major humanitarian disaster requiring that level of [joint task force] three-star commander, be it some scenario, maritime security issue in the South China Sea. So we have been working very closely with 7th Fleet, [Aucoin] and his team, and PACFLT to ensure that we have the connective tissue where if something were to happen that 3rd Fleet could very quickly respond, complement [Aucoin] and his team and handle whatever scenario may come to pass in the Pacific theater."

In April 2016, Vice Admiral Tyson deployed a three-ship Surface Action Group of warships (Momsen, Spruance, and USS Decatur (DDG-73))[13]) to the Western Pacific. On Oct. 21, one of them, the destroyer USS Decatur conducted a "Freedom of Navigation" passage near the Paracel Islands, separately claimed by the PRC, Vietnam and Taiwan. All three ships remained under Third Fleet command during the entire operation. As Tyson partially acknowledged during her WEST 2017 conference remarks, "the Chinese know that this administrative (and) operational innovation is directed at them," said Toshi Yoshihara, a U.S. Naval War College professor in January 2017.[14]

Component units

U.S. Third Fleet component units include the following:[15]

Task Forces

Task Force Name Task Force Type Location/Notes
CTF-30 Battle force N/A
Task Force 31 Command and coordination force N/A
CTF-32 Ready force N/A
CTF-33 Logistics support force Point Loma. Military Sealift Command, Pacific (MSCPAC) is responsible for MSC ships operating in the Eastern Pacific. It is dual-hatted as Commander, Task Force 33, directing the underway delivery of fuel, provisions, ordnance and towing services to Navy combatants in the U.S. 3rd Fleet area of responsibility.[16]
CTF-34 Theatre ASW force Pearl Harbor, HI[17]
CTF-35 Surface combatant force
CTF-36 Amphibious force
CTF-37 Carrier strike force
CTF-39 Landing force


  1. ^ The "Big Blue Fleet" was the name given to the main fleet of the U.S. Navy in the Pacific. The term stems from pre-war planning, called the "color plans" because each nation included was given a color code name. In these plans for potential conflicts, the British Royal Navy was "Red," the German Navy was "Black," and so forth. The Imperial Japanese Navy was termed the "Orange Fleet," while the U.S. fleet was the "Blue Fleet". The "Big Blue Fleet" was the massive fleet that the U.S. Navy anticipated it would field to win a war wit Japan and which it thought largely would come into being by late 1943 or early 1944.[4]


  1. ^ http://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/navybio.asp?bioID=672
  2. ^ "Global Security.org Third Fleet". Retrieved 10 December 2006.
  3. ^ a b "Third Fleet: Who We Are". United States Navy. Retrieved 11 August 2016. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ Potter p. 112
  5. ^ Potter p. 182
  6. ^ "United States Navy Third Fleet (Official Website)". Archived from the original on 13 February 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
  7. ^ Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Torrey W. Lee, USN (3 June 2010). "Ronald Reagan Begins Flight Deck Certification". NNS100603-15. USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  8. ^ "2010 History". USS Ronald Reagan CVN-76. USCarriers.net. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  9. ^ Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Aaron Stevens, USN (29 June 2010). "USS Ronald Reagan Draws Excitement in Canadian Naval Centennial's Fleet Review". NNS100629-07. USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  10. ^ 24 July 2015, by Abbey Gibb. "First woman to lead Navy Fleet takes over | FOX5 San Diego – San Diego news, weather, traffic, sports from KSWB". Fox5sandiego.com. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  11. ^ Steele, Jeanette (30 July 1965). "1st woman at helm of U.S. operational fleet". SanDiegoUnionTribune.com. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  12. ^ "'3rd Fleet Forward' One Of Several Tools to Deter North Korea". USNI News. 22 February 2017. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  13. ^ http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/cds31/Pages/Surface-Action-Group-to-Demonstrate-3rd-Fleet-Forward-Concept-.aspx
  14. ^ ContentServer. "Navy's Third Fleet Returns to World War II Roots". Military.com. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  15. ^ "Commander, U.S. Third Fleet". Archived from the original on 15 April 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  16. ^ "MSC Pacific".


  • Potter, E. B. (2005). Admiral Arliegh Burke. U.S. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-692-6.
  • Taylor, Theodore (1954). The Magnificent Mitscher. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-850-2.

External links

Donald S. Jones

Vice Admiral Donald S. Jones (May 18, 1928 – December 13, 2004) was a United States Navy admiral.

HMS Wakeful (1943)

HMS Wakeful was a W-class destroyer of the Royal Navy launched in 1943. She saw service during the Second World War and was later converted into a Type 15 fast anti-submarine frigate. She was sold for scrap in 1971.

Helicopter 66

Helicopter 66 is a United States Navy Sikorsky Sea King helicopter used during the late 1960s for the water recovery of astronauts during five missions of the Apollo program. It has been called "one of the most famous, or at least most iconic, helicopters in history", was the subject of a 1969 song by Manuela, and was made into a die-cast model by Dinky Toys. In addition to its work in support of NASA, Helicopter 66 also transported the Shah of Iran during his 1973 visit to the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk.

Helicopter 66 was delivered to the U.S. Navy in 1967 and formed part of the inventory of U.S. Navy Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Four for the duration of its active life. Among its pilots during this period was Donald S. Jones, who would go on to command the United States Third Fleet. Later re-numbered Helicopter 740, the aircraft crashed in the Pacific Ocean in 1975 during a training exercise. At the time of its crash, it had logged more than 3,200 hours of service.

Jerry L. Unruh

Jerry Lee Unruh (born November 21, 1939) was a vice admiral in the United States Navy. He commanded the United States Third Fleet from 1991 to 1994.His awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritous Service Medal (4), Air Medal (14), and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

His favorite car was his 1961 Corvette.

List of fleets

The following is the list of fleets of the navies from around the world.

List of units of the United States Navy

This article is a list of commands of the United States Navy.

The list is organized along administrative chains of command (CoC), and does not include the CNO's office or shore establishments.

Deployable/operational U.S. Navy units typically have two chains of command – the operational chain and the administrative chains.

Operational CoCs change quite often based on a unit's location and current mission. For example, USS Roosevelt is always administratively assigned to Commander, Naval Air Force, Atlantic Fleet (CNAL). It might also be operationally assigned to CNAL early in its inter-deployment readiness cycle (IDRC). Before 2010, later in the IDRC, it would have been assigned to Commander, Second Fleet, which is responsible for Carrier Strike Group (CSG) training and operations on the east coast.

Once the CSG deploys and crosses over the inter-UCC boundary in the mid-Atlantic, it then reports (is "chopped") to the Sixth Fleet (responsible for European waters and the Mediterranean Sea).

Once the CSG enters the Suez Canal, it "chops" to the Fifth Fleet for operational control.

Operationally, the Roosevelt CSG chain of command is: Commander Fifth Fleet, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, Commander U.S. Central Command, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, United States Secretary of Defense, President of the United States.

Margaret A. Rykowski

Margaret A. Rykowski is a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy Reserve and serves as Deputy Fleet Surgeon, United States Fleet Forces Command and Deputy Director, United States Navy Nurse Corps, Reserve Component.

Michael Le Fanu

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Michael Le Fanu (2 August 1913 – 28 November 1970) was a Royal Navy officer. He fought in the Second World War as gunnery officer in a cruiser operating in the Home Fleet during the Norwegian Campaign and the Battle of the Mediterranean and then as gunnery officer in a battleship operating in the Eastern Fleet before becoming liaison officer between the British Pacific Fleet and the United States Third Fleet. After the War he commanded a frigate, a training establishment and an aircraft carrier. He served as First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff in the late 1960s. In that role, in the face of economic difficulties, he worked hard to reshape the Navy as an anti-submarine force operating primarily in the Atlantic Ocean.

Navy Region Hawaii

Navy Region Hawaii (CNRH or NAVREGHI) is one of eleven current naval regions responsible to Commander, Navy Installations Command for the operation and management of Naval shore installations in Hawaii. The region is commanded by RDML Robert B. Chadwick, who also serves additionally as the commander of Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific.

The region's most important installation, Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam hosts two of United States Pacific Command subordinate Service components - United States Pacific Fleet on the Pearl Harbor side, and Pacific Air Forces on the Hickam side. The region also oversees installation support for the Pacific Missile Range Facility, the world's largest instrumented, multi-dimensional testing and training missile range in Kekaha, Hawaii.

South China Sea raid

The South China Sea raid (designated Operation Gratitude) was an operation conducted by the United States Third Fleet between 10 and 20 January 1945 during the Pacific War of World War II. The raid was undertaken to support the liberation of Luzon in the Philippines, and targeted Japanese warships, supply convoys and aircraft in the region.

After attacking airfields and shipping at Formosa and Luzon, the Third Fleet entered the South China Sea during the night of 9/10 January. Aircraft flying from its aircraft carriers attacked Japanese shipping off French Indochina on 12 January, sinking 44 vessels. The fleet then sailed north and attacked Formosa again on the 15th of the month. Further raids were conducted against Hong Kong, Canton and Hainan the next day. The Third Fleet departed the South China Sea on 20 January and, after making further attacks on Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands, returned to its base on 25 January.

The Third Fleet's operations in the South China Sea were highly successful. It destroyed a large number of Japanese ships and aircraft, while losing relatively few of its own aircraft. Historians have judged the destruction of cargo vessels and oil tankers to have been the most important result of the raid, as these losses contributed to closing a supply route which was vital to the Japanese war effort. Subsequent attacks by Allied aircraft and warships forced the Japanese to cease sending ships into the South China Sea after March 1945.

Task Force 31

Task Force 31 (TF 31) was a US Navy task force active with the United States Third Fleet during World War II, and still ready to be activated today with today's Third Fleet. Task Force numbers were in constant use, and there were several incarnations of TF 31 during World War II.

In its most known World War II guise, it was formed at the end of World War II, under Rear Admiral Oscar C. Badger II, to begin the occupation of Japan. The TF 31 combatant ships were the first to enter Tokyo Bay when the US was not certain what kind of reception was waiting from the Japanese. The Task Force transported US Marine units to the Miura Peninsula area of Japan, which forms the southwest arm of Tokyo Bay, for occupation duties. The Marines were tasked with securing the military bases at Yokosuka and demilitarizing the entire peninsula.

Third Fleet (disambiguation)

The name Third Fleet or 3rd fleet can refer to:

Third Fleet (United Kingdom)

United States Third Fleet

Third Fleet (Australia), part of the British effort of the late eighteenth century to colonise Australia

IJN 3rd Fleet, Imperial Japanese Navy

Third Fleet, an organizational unit of the Republic of Korea Navy

Luftflotte 3

USS Cabana

USS Cabana (DE-260) was an Evarts-class destroyer escort constructed for the United States Navy during World War II. The namesake of this ship, Napoleon Joseph Cabana, was born in Fairhaven, Massachusetts on 26 March 1911, Cabana enlisted in the Navy on 17 March 1930 and was appointed machinist on 2 February 1941. As assistant safety engineer of the Cavite Navy Yard, Philippines, he was killed in action during Japanese attacks on that base on 12 December 1941.

Cabana was launched on 10 March 1943 by Boston Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. E. Cabana; and commissioned on 9 July 1943, Lieutenant Commander R. L. Bence, USNR, in command.

USS Cabana was sent off into the Pacific Ocean to protect convoys and other ships from Japanese submarines and aircraft. She performed escort and antisubmarine operations in dangerous battle areas and returned home with seven battle stars, a very high number for a ship of her type.

USS Duxbury Bay (AVP-38)

USS Duxbury Bay (AVP-38) was a United States Navy Barnegat-class small seaplane tender in commission from 1944 to 1966.

USS William J. Pattison (APD-104)

USS William J. Pattison (APD-104), ex-DE-594, was a United States Navy high-speed transport in commission from 1945 to 1946.

United States First Fleet

The First Fleet was a numbered fleet of the United States Navy, in operation from January 1947 to 1 February 1973 in the western Pacific Ocean as part of the Pacific Fleet. In 1973, it was disestablished and its duties assumed by the United States Third Fleet.

Vice Admiral A. E. Montgomery was named as Commander, First Task Fleet, in an air station report of July 1947, with an inspection visit by a group of senior officers. The old cruiser Salt Lake City was sunk as an atomic bomb test target during First Task Fleet manoeuvers in May 1948. USS Salisbury Sound became the flagship of Vice Admiral G.F. Bogan (Commander First Task Fleet) on 25 March 1949. USS Curtiss served as flagship for Commander First Fleet early in 1949 for three weeks of amphibious operations in Alaskan waters to evaluate cold weather equipment. USS Helena served as flagship for Commander, First Fleet, from January 1960 to March 1963. USS Providence served as flagship in San Diego from 1969 until April 1972, except for yard overhaul in 1970 when USS Chicago assumed the role.

United States Fourth Fleet

The U.S. Fourth Fleet is a United States Navy numbered fleet. It is the Naval Component Command of U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM). The Fourth Fleet is headquartered at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida. It is responsible for U.S. Navy ships, aircraft and submarines operating in the Caribbean Sea, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans around Central and South America.

United States Second Fleet

The United States Second Fleet is a numbered fleet in the United States Navy responsible for the East Coast and North Atlantic Ocean. The Fleet was established following World War II. In September 2011, Second Fleet was deactivated in view of the United States Government's perception that the potential military threat posed by Russia had diminished. On 4 May 2018, Admiral John M. Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations, announced plans to reestablish Second Fleet amid heightened tensions between NATO and Russia. It was reestablished on 24 August 2018, with Vice Admiral Andrew "Woody" Lewis in command.Second Fleet's historic area of responsibility included approximately 6,700,000 square miles (17,000,000 km2) of the Atlantic Ocean from the North Pole to the Caribbean and from the shores of the United States to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Second Fleet's United States West Coast counterpart was United States First Fleet from the immediate post-World War II years until 1973, and United States Third Fleet from 1973.

Prior to its 2011 disestablishment, Second Fleet oversaw approximately 126 ships, 4,500 aircraft, and 90,000 personnel home-ported at U.S. Navy installations along the United States East Coast.

William Halsey (disambiguation)

William Halsey may refer to:

William Halsey Jr. (1882–1959), U.S. Naval officer and the commander of the United States Third Fleet during part of the Pacific War against Japan.

William F. Halsey Sr. (1853–1920), his father, U.S. naval officer

William Darrach Halsey, American encyclopaedist and lexicographer

William Melton Halsey (1915-1999), American abstract artist

William Halsey (mayor) (1770–1843), mayor of Newark, New Jersey, 1836–1837

William Halsey (judge), Irish politician, soldier and judge

History and


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.