Little more than a year after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the Axis powers signed a pact in Berlin, a new U.S. naval command was formed to control operations in one of the hottest areas of warfare on the water.

On March 15, 1943, Vice Adm. Arthur S. Carpenter took control of what had been the Southwest Pacific Force, the precursor of the 7th Fleet.

The fleet today is led by Vice Adm. Jonathan Greenert from aboard the USS Blue Ridge, which celebrated the fleet’s 62nd anniversary while on a cruise to South Asia.

The command immediately was pivotal in the World War II Pacific Ocean campaigns and later was heavily involved in the wars in Korea and Vietnam.

After Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, President George H.W. Bush added operational responsibility for the Middle East to the responsibilities of 7th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Henry H. Mauz Jr. for nearly a year before the 5th Fleet was set up to take control of that region.

“We have an impressive record of being part of nearly every major naval operation of the 20th century,” Greenert, on the Blue Ridge, stated in a written news release. “We’re not resting on our past accomplishments now, especially not in today’s world.”

The Seventh Fleet now is the Navy’s largest U.S. numbered fleet, with the largest geographical area of operations.

The command, based at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, has more than 40 ships, 120 aircraft and 20,000 sailors and Marines. It includes the USS Kitty Hawk, Kitty Hawk Strike Group, Carrier Air Wing 5 and the Essex Amphibious Ready Group.

The fleet’s ships are involved in exercises with forces from a dozen countries in the Pacific and Indian oceans each year, including one with South Korea scheduled for this month.

The fleet is also engaged in humanitarian work. After a deadly earthquake unleashed devastating tsunamis in south Asia on Dec. 26, the 7th Fleet took the first steps in Operation Unified Assistance, among history’s largest humanitarian relief efforts.

Ships supporting that operation included included the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, USS Bonhomme Richard and Expeditionary Strike Group 5, USS Essex, USS Fort McHenry and the USNS Mercy hospital ship.

7th Fleet highlights ...

¶ March 15, 1943, a new command is created and takes part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines under Gen. Douglas MacArthur, supreme commander, Southwest Pacific Area.

¶ After the war, in 1947, the fleet becomes Naval Forces Western Pacific.

¶ Before the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, the force is designated U.S. 7th Task Fleet.

¶ On Feb 11, 1950, the force becomes the U.S. 7th Fleet.

Source: 7th Fleet

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