The Seventh Fleet is a numbered fleet of the United States Navy. It is headquartered at U.S. Fleet ActivitiesYokosuka, in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is part of the United States Pacific Fleet. At present, it is the largest of the forward-deployedU.S. fleets, with 60 to 70 ships, 300 aircraft, and 40,000 Navy, Marine Corps personnel, and coast Guard support personnel. Its principal responsibilities are to provide joint command in natural disaster or military operations and operational command of all US naval forces in the region. Following the end of the Cold War, the SeventhFleet would most likely intervene in case of conflict in Korea or conflict between China and Taiwan, especially in the Taiwan Strait. Keeping in view the provocative action ofChina in the South China Sea and against Taiwan, the 7th fleet assumes special significance. In this article, we will analyze how powerful is the U.S Seventh Fleet which positioned very close to China? Let’s get into the details.
The Seventh Fleet was formed on 15 March 1943in Brisbane, Australia, during World War II, under the command of Admiral Arthur S. "Chips” Carpender. Of the 50–60 ships typically assigned to Seventh Fleet, 18 operate from U.S. facilities in Japan and Guam. These forward-deployed units represent the heart of the Seventh Fleet and the centerpieces of American forward presence in Asia Seventh Fleet are organized into specialized task forces. Task Force 70 is the Battle Force of 7th Fleet and is made up of two distinct components: Surface Combatant Force 7th Fleet, composed of cruisers and destroyers, and Carrier Strike Force 7th Fleet, made up of at least one aircraft carrier and its embarked air wing. The Battle Force is currently centered around Carrier Strike Group Five, the carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) responsible for unit-level training, integrated training, and material readiness for the group's ships and aviation squadrons.
As the only continuously forward-deployed carrier strike group, the CSG-5 staff does not stand down when the strike group is in Yokosuka but instead continues to maintain command responsibilities over deploying CarrierStrike Groups and independently deployed cruisers, destroyers, and frigates that operate in the Seventh Fleet operating area. The commander and staff are also responsible for the higher level Task Force 70 duties throughout the year in addition to the CSG-5duties. The composition of the strike group varies throughout the year. The CSG 5 Commander also serves as BattleForce Seventh Fleet and Commander, Task Force (CTF 70) for the 7th Fleet. In these responsibilities, CSG 5 serves as the Commander of all surface forces (carrier strike groups, independently deploying cruisers, destroyers, and frigates) in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. CTF 70 also serves as the Theater SurfaceWarfare Commander (TSUWC) and Theater Integrated Air Missile Defense Commander (TIAMDC) for Seventh Fleet.
Task Force 71 includes all Naval Special Warfare(NSW) units and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Units (EODMU) assigned to the 7th Fleet. It is based in Guam. Task Force 72 is the Patrol and ReconnaissanceForce, Seventh Fleet. It is located at Naval Air Facility Misawa(Misawa Air Base), Japan. It is mainly composed of anti-submarine warfare(ASW) aircraft and maritime airborne surveillance platforms such as P-3 Orion and Lockheed EP-3reconnaissance planes operating on land bases. Task Force 73 is the 7th Fleet's LogisticsForce composed of supply ships and other fleet support vessels. Headquartered in Singapore.
Task Force 74 was the designation used for the Enterprise battle group in 1971. Currently, it is the Fleet Submarine Force responsible for planning and coordinating submarine operations within 7th Fleet's area of operations. Task Force 75 Navy Expeditionary Forces CommandPacific is 7th Fleet's primary Expeditionary task force. Located in Camp Covington, Guam, CTF 75 is responsible for the planning and execution of coastal riverine operations, explosive ordnance disposal, diving, engineering and construction, and underwater construction throughout the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. Task Force 76 is the Amphibious assault taskforce currently headquartered at U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo, mainly responsible for supporting Marine landing operations. It is composed of units capable of delivering ship-to-shore assault troops, such as America-class and Wasp-class amphibious assault ships, and landing craft.
Task Force 77 – 7th Fleet Mine Warfare Forcecomposed of mine countermeasure, mine hunter, and mine control ships as well as mine countermeasure helicopters (MH-53). This task force is only activated during specific combat operations and was filled by the Commander of Mine Warfare Command. Mine Warfare Command has now been disestablished and replaced by Navy Mine and Antisubmarine Warfare Command, Naval Base Point Loma, Calif. Task Force 78 – In 1973, Task Force 78 served as the mine clearance force that cleared Haiphong Harbour in Operation End Sweep. Major elements of the U.S. Navy mine warfare force, including Mobile Mine Command (MOM COM), Mine Warfare Support Group (MWFSG), and HM-12were airlifted by C-5A to NAS Cubi Point in the Philippines. These specialists formed the nucleus of TaskForce 78. Task Force 79 – The Marine expeditionary unit or Landing Force assigned to the fleet, consisting of at least a reinforced Marine battalion and its equipment.
This unit is separate from the Marine expeditionary unit (MEU) normally embarked in USS Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG). Marine units serving in the 7th Fleet are normally drawn from III Marine Expeditionary Force based in Okinawa, Japan. USS Ronald Reagan Nimitz class supercarrier is the main asset of the 7th fleet. It equipped with 16 to 24 RIM-7 Sea Sparrow for air defense and Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) duties are performed by Phalanx & RIM-116Rolling Airframe missile.[add] Its main offensive force consists of the F/A-18Hornet and F/A-18 Super Hornet. USS Ronald Reagan can carry around 60 of these and will be the trump card when it comes to enforcing air dominance. Apart from these fighter jets, USS Ronald Reagan has an EA-18G Growler for airborne electronic attack & E-2C Hawkeye AWACS for airspace monitoring with command and control.
The surface force also consists of multipleTiconderoga & Arleigh Burke warships. Ticonderoga-class has 122 and Arleigh Burke-class has 92 MK 41 cells which can be armed with different types of weapons that include LandAttack Cruise missile-like Tomahawks, SM 6 for Ballistic Missile Defense as well as AntiShip Warfare to name a few. US Navy also deploys nuclear powered Los Angeles-class or Seawolf-class or Virginia class submarines as part of the strike group. These have practically unlimited range and endurance and possess several different kinds of weapons for the land attack as well as anti-ship and anti-submarine role. Several different kinds of supporting vessels like tankers are part of this fleet. It is important to note that in Jan this year Taiwanese voters have re-elected incumbent president Tsai Ing-Wen in a landslide election.
This is seen as a sharp rebuke to Beijing and its attempts to intimidate and lure Taiwan into China’s fold. Tsai won more than 8m votes, the most any presidential candidate has garnered since Taiwan began holding direct elections for the position in 1996 She easily defeated her opponent Han Kuo-yu, whose Kuomintang party promotes closer ties with China. Since this, China has taken a very hostile stance and has been sending aircraft and ships to intimidate Taiwan. The Seventh Fleet is a potent force. It is actually more powerful than the entire military machinery of many countries. The important aspect is that as it is close to China, hence can be quickly deployed to counter the Chinese force and is actually acting as a deterrence.