Washington — The U.S. Navy plans to re-establish its Fourth Fleet, disbanded in 1950, to oversee ships, aircraft, and submarines operating in the Caribbean and Central and South America, a Defense Department statement said.
The current commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, Rear Admiral Joseph Kernan, will lead the fleet effective July 1, the chief of naval operations, Admiral Gary Roughead, said in a statement. The fleet will be based in Mayport, Fla., coordinating efforts with the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, which also is based there.
The U.S. Navy has been planning to build up its forces in the region. Admiral James Stavridis, who oversees military affairs for Latin America, told Congress on March 6 that he backs plans to designate a new fleet, led by a nuclear aircraft carrier, to patrol the waters of the Caribbean and Latin America in support of counter-terrorism operations.
The move comes as South American nations, including Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, and Ecuador, boost military spending to counter tensions and protect oil reserves.