Naval fleet

The US Third Fleet c. January 1945

A Naval Fleet is usually a permanent formation. Fleets are generally assigned to a particular ocean or sea. Many fleets are named after the particular ocean or sea they are assigned to. Since 1942 the United States Navy uses numbers to identify their fleets.[1]

A fleet is normally commanded by an Admiral.[2] Usually his rank is Admiral of the Fleet. Some fleets have been or are commanded by Vice-Admirals or even Rear-Admirals. Most fleets are divided into several squadrons. Each squadron is commanded by a subordinate admiral. Those squadrons in turn are often divided into divisions. In the age of sail, fleets were divided into van, centre and rear squadrons. These were named after each squadron’s place in the line of battle. In more modern times, the squadrons are typically composed of groups of the same class of warships. Examples would be frigates[3] or destroyers.[4]

Since many smaller navies only contain a single fleet, the term the fleet usually means the navy.[5]

  • references


  1. Norman Polmar, The Naval Institute Guide to the Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1939), p. 29
  2. Hearings Before the Committee on Naval Affairs of the House of Representatives: 1908–1909 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1908), p. 1110
  3. John Roberts, Safeguarding the Nation: The Story of the Modern Royal Navy (Barnsley: Seaforth, 2009), p. 18
  4. Harold A Skaarup, Out of Darkness—Light: 1983-1997 (New York: iUniverse, 2005), p. 474
  5. Holger H. Herwig, Luxury' Fleet: The Imperial German Navy 1888-1918 (New York: Routledge, 2014), p. 77
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