Six Navy Ships in 4th Fleet

USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752), left, and the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG-85) maneuver in formation during Talisman Sabre 2019 on July 11, 2019. US Navy Photo

Having watched the US Naval Institute News’ Fleet and Marine Tracker for some time, I am a bit surprised to see six ship assigned to Fourth Fleet, inspite of the on going COVID-19 problem. Six ships is only 2% of the Navy’s 296 “battleforce” ships (Note, the 3 Mayport based Cyclone class patrol craft that sometimes assist in drug enforcement are not counted among the 296), but it is far more than we typically see in the area. Unfortunately the USNI site gives us no information about what type ships are deployed or where they are. (Pacific or Caribbean?) 

This is the first solid evidence I have seen that the Navy is actually going to carry through on their stated intention to surge assets for drug enforcement. There were four ships reported in the area on April 13, also an unusually high number. There were six reported on April 6. March 30, there were two. March 23 there was only one. Prior to that it was ususally one ship, on rare occasions two, sometimes none. 

Supposedly additional aircraft and other assets are also being assigned to support the ships.

114 thoughts on “Six Navy Ships in 4th Fleet

  1. I ran across a recent radar track of an E-8 JSTARS aircraft returning from a drug interdiction mission over the Eastern Pacific, so there are a lot of high-level assets being put in SouthCom’s hands right now.

    • This is a guess, but I believe a good portion of this the “Little Combat Ships” coming out of the “tunnel of doom”. The near complete shutdown and restructuring of LCS operations is complete, and the ships based out of Mayport are starting to sail regularly. With most of the Lockheed/Marinette LCS ships based out of Mayport the 4th Fleet is suddenly ship rich. I don’t foresee this continuing as the Navy will at some point forward deploy LCS resources to the 5th and 7th fleets. But that will be based on finding success in deployment and maintenance rates.

      • Almost certainly some of these are Freedom class LCS from Mayport, Possibly also probably Spearhead EPF.

        Will they make it to the Eastern Pacific transit zones, or will they spend all their time in the Caribbean?

        We don’t know yet.

  2. seems most of the action is in eastern pacific lately. I don’t think abandon the carib but would not the navy assets be more useful in the pacific?

    • Caribbean is easiest to get to for ships out of Mayport but nearby we have 19 Seventh District FRCs and ships from the Netherlands, France, and UK to help. Eastern Pacific is where more assets would really help.

  3. Austal Independence class LCS are based on the west coast at San Diego. This would seem a potential asset for Eastern Pacific patrols. But everything I’ve found indicates every available ship is being forward deployed to the Western Pacific apparently on anti-China patrols. The lack of consistency has me fearing the increased Caribbean patrols are a temporary event. That we will see a decrease when as the the Freedom class LCS get forward deployed to 5th and 6th fleets. This will be something to look for in the forthcoming USN Fleet study, which has indicated a potential of the LCS being included as part of the new Marine gator fleet concept.

    • First it is important to remember that the ships in Mayport are closer to the Eastern Pacific than the ships in San Diego.

      What surprises me is that we are seeing DDGs used for Law Enforcement, not just LCS. I think it is that the President took an interest in drug enforcement and the Navy reacted accordingly.

      There is also the fact that an unusual number of Navy ships are underway now, apparently in isolation from the COVID-19 virus.

      So I agree the surge in Navy interest in LE is probably only temporary. On the other hand, I don’t think it is going to disappear completely .

      There is also supposed to be a new Sea Service Strategy coming out this Summer, although it may have been delayed. Should be interesting.

  4. Pingback: “New Normal” in the Eastern Pacific? | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

  5. Again only three Navy ships in Forth Fleet, and one is not doing drug interdiction.
    “Recently placed in commission, the USS Tripoli (LHA-7) is underway in U.S. 4th Fleet. Tripoli is sailing around South America to its homeport of San Diego, Calif.”

  6. A Navy spokesperson confirmed to USNI News that Giffords (LCS 10), along with USS Sioux City (LCS-11), USS Detroit (LCS-7) and Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110), are currently deployed to 4th Fleet.

  7. “US Navy USS Gabrielle Gifford LCS 10 conducts counter-narcotics operations”

    Re two of the four Navy ships in 4th Fleet:

    “Gabrielle Giffords recently completed a routine Planned Maintenance Availability (PMAV) executed by 24 Sailors from the Maintenance Execution Team (MET) deployed onboard the USNS Burlington (T-EPF 10), an afloat staging base deployed as a testbed to support new concepts for expeditionary LCS maintenance and support.”

    These two ships are now engaged in Exercise UNITAS along with USCGC Legare.

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