Washington, May 5: The US Navy has said it is re-establishing its Second Fleet to bolster the American and NATO presence in the Atlantic Ocean amid increasing tensions with Russia. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson made the announcement on Friday during a change of command ceremony in Norfolk, Virginia. He said the fleet, which was disbanded in 2011 for cost-saving and structural reasons, would oversee forces on the US East Coast and North Atlantic, the BBC reported. He said the National Defence Strategy, published earlier this year, made it clear that the era of great power competition had returned. Countering Russia and China was a a priority, according to the strategy. “Our National Defence Strategy makes clear that we’re back in an era of great power competition as the security environment continues to grow more challenging and complex,” Adm. Richardson said in the announcement. “That’s why today, we’re standing up Second Fleet to address these changes, particularly in the north Atlantic.” The fleet will be based in its previous home — Norfolk.
According to the NATO officials, Russia has increased naval patrols in the Baltic Sea, the North Atlantic and the Arctic. Its submarine activity “was at its highest level” since the Cold War. Ties between Russia and the West have deteriorated amid allegations of Russian meddling in 2016 US presidential elections, Moscow’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal, for which the UK blames Russia. (IANS)