The Navy’s headquarters for patrol and reconnaissance operations in the Pacific and Middle East is headed to Misawa Air Base, Japan, next month, officials said.

The move will consolidate operations and reduce the burden on base facilities in Japan.

Command of Task Force 72, and Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1, is moving from Kamiseya Naval Support Facility outside Tokyo to Misawa Naval Air Facility in northern Japan.

The Navy also raised the task force commander’s billet rank, from captain to rear admiral, a flag-officer position. Rear Adm. Kenneth Deutsch has been appointed to that post.

As part of his job, Deutsch will oversee P-3 anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft squadrons in the Pacific, Asia and Middle East. He also will command Fleet Air Western Pacific, which will remain at Atsugi Naval Air Facility outside Tokyo.

The change realigns operational control for maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft with the other 7th Fleet Task Force commanders and overseas numbered fleets, said Cmdr. Scott Gureck, a 7th Fleet spokesman.

Misawa, an Air Force base, already has a large Navy population, including several tenant commands. Deutsch will be the highest-ranking Navy official on base.

No aircraft or equipment will be shifted. The command is moving into an existing building on base, Wallach said.

About 90 active-duty personnel and 45 families will move from Kamiseya to Misawa, according to a Navy statement. Most servicemembers leave in October. The entire move is expected to take several weeks, said Cmdr. John Wallach, a spokesman for Commander, Naval Forces Japan.

Officials say the base has enough housing and facilities to accommodate the new residents and their families.

The Navy has not announced plans for Kamiseya, where several other commands still remain.

Task Force 72 is one of several under the 7th Fleet and the only one not previously commanded by a flag officer. The 7th Fleet area of responsibility includes the Pacific Ocean west of the international dateline to the east coast of Africa, excluding the Middle East.

Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1 will be split into a patrol force for the 7th Fleet and 5th Fleet, which covers the Middle East.

It will be known as Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Force 7th Fleet (CPRF7F); and Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Force 5th Fleet (CPRF5F).

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