Association Logo

THE U.S.S. LITTLE ROCK
and the
U.S. NAVY'S SIXTH FLEET

6th Fleet Logo (Old)
 Power For Peace
6th Fleet Logo (New)
6th Fleet Logo

Note: This page is a "work in progress". As such, information will be added as it becomes available. (Ed.)

Page last updated: 06 May 2013


Below are some historic details pertaining to the U.S. Navy's Sixth Fleet

and to the participation of the

U.S.S. Little Rock CLG-4 as its Flagship.


Mediterranean Squadron

U.S. Navy's Sixth Fleet Today

Since 2004 the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet has been an operational unit of U.S. Naval Forces Europe. Since that time the staff has operated as a single entity with a four star commander, COMNAVEUR, and a three star Deputy Commander/Chief of Staff who also carries the title COMSIXTHFLT. The staff as a whole is known as COMNAVEUR-COMSIXTHFLT (or CNE-C6F) presently working from its Capodichino site facilities at Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy. The Sixth Fleet flagship (currently USS Mount Whitney) is home-ported Gaeta, Italy.

All U.S. Naval forces entering the Mediterranean Sea are assigned ("chopped") to Sixth Fleet. The Sixth Fleet has consisted of up to 40 ships, 175 aircraft and 21,000 people, such as in early 2003, when two carrier battlegroups operated in the Mediterranean in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since 2005, Sixth Fleet ships have increasingly been operating around Africa, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea.

(The above was extracted in part from Wikipedia.)



A brief history of the U.S. Navy's Sixth Fleet


Since the early 19th century, when U.S. naval forces first engaged the Barbary Pirates to prevent them from interfering with commercial shipping, the United States has maintained a naval presence in the Mediterranean . The earliest squadron was generally known as the Mediterranean Squadron, and was also known as the Mediterranean Station.

In the years following World War I, ships of the United States Mediterranean Squadron helped maintain peace among the countries of the Balkans and the Middle East.

During World War II U.S. Naval forces in the Mediterranean supported landings in North Africa (the Nov 42), in Sicily (Jul and Aug 43), and Anzio (Jan 44). On 05 Aug 44 U. S. naval forces landed U. S. armies in Southern France. The performance of U. S. naval forces in the Mediterranean contributed significantly to victory in Europe. In the spring and summer of 1945 U.S. naval activities in the Mediterranean were reduced as liberated ports were returned to their national authorities. A small postwar fleet of U.S. Navy ships, known as Naval Forces, Mediterranean, commanded by Vice Admiral Bernhard H. Bieri, USN, remained in the Mediterranean to protect American interests and to support United States policies in the area.

In 1946 President Truman dispatched the battleship Missouri to the Eastern Mediterranean to counter Soviet threats to Turkey and Iran. At that time the small U.S. fleet had as its flagship the USS Shenandoah AD-26, a destroyer tender, which was anchored at Naples, Italy. The cruiser USS Dayton CL-105 relieved the Shenandoah as flagship and began operating with the fleet on 07 Aug 1947. The title of Naval Forces Mediterranean was changed to Commander Sixth Task Fleet on 01 Jun 48 and then, on 12 Feb 1950 to Commander Sixth Fleet.

Throughout its history the Sixth Fleet has been part of a number of higher commands. See a brief recap of these commands below.

Click HERE to read an alternate Sixth Fleet History summary published as part of a USS Little Rock brochure in the 1970's.

U.S. Navy Sixth Fleet Flagships


The data contained in the following chart is derived from a large number of sources. Much of the information shown, while accurate in content, is questionable as far as accuracy. If you have any verifiable data that can add to the accuracy of, or correct data in the table, please send it to the Webmaster.

In the early history of the United States squadrons of deployed naval ships were not named. The first officially named squadron in the Mediterranean was the "Mediterranean Squadron", later referred to as the "European Squadron". After WWII, U.S. naval ships deployed in the Mediterranean were considered part of "Naval Forces Mediterranean", later called the "Sixth Task Fleet". Beginning in 1950 deployed U.S. naval ships were considered to be part of the "Sixth Fleet".

The use of a (?) in a date indicates that the exact day, or month, or year shown is in question. The "Start Date" and "End Date" columns indicate the beginning date and the ending date for a particular ship's deployment as Flagship.

Ships that have had a large number of deployments as a Flagship are shown with a colored background to help identify them within the list.


Flagships of the "SIXTH FLEET"
and
Related Historical Events


1794 - Congress passes the Naval Act of 1794

The Naval Act of 1794 authorized construction or purchase of six ships.
( Four ships of 44 guns each, and two ships of 36 guns each.) 
 Click HERE to see List of ships

1798 - 1800
 Quasi War (Franco-American War)
(Between USA and France)
Start
Date

Ship's Name and Designation
(or Related Historical Event)
End
Date

Place Flag
Transferred
Commanding
Officer(s)
Sep 1800
U.S.S. George Washington
(1st American warship in Mediterranean.)
(First American warship to call at Constantinople.)
Oct 1800 -
Capt. Wm Bainbridge
1801 - 1805
 First Barbary War
(Between USA and Ottoman Empire)
1801
U.S.S. President
(Considered to be the first Mediterranean Squadron, on 01 Jul 1801 USS President anchored in the Bay of Gibraltar with USS Essex, USS Philadelphia and USS Enterprise.)
1801
-

1802
U.S.S. Chesapeake
06 Apr 1803
-

 06 Apr 1803
U.S.S. New York
Aug 1803
-

Aug 1803
U.S.S. Constitution
Sep 1804
-

Sep 1804
U.S.S. President  Apr 1805


Apr 1805
U.S.S. Constitution Aug 1807

John Rodgers
Aug 1807
(Data for these years is being researched) 1812 -

Jun 1812   -   Feb 1815
War of 1812
(Between USA and England)
1815
Second Barbary War
(Between USA and  Ottoman Empire)
May 1815
U.S.S. Guerriere  (See Note 12.)
Nov 1815
-

1815
U.S.S. Independence (See Note 12.) 1816
-

08 Jun 1816
U.S.S. Washington
01 Feb 1818
-

01 Feb 1818 U.S.S. Franklin Mar 1820 -

Mar 1820
U.S.S. Columbus
Jul 1821
-

Jul 1821
U.S.S. Constitution
Mar 1828
-

Mar 1828
U.S.S. Delaware
Nov 1829
-

Nov 1829
(Data for these years is being researched) Aug 1833
-

Aug 1833
U.S.S. Delaware
Dec 1835
-

Dec 1835
U.S.S. Constitution 1838
-

1838
U.S.S. Ohio
1839
-

1839
(Data for these years is being researched) 1843
-

1843
U.S.S. Cumberland
1845
-
S.L.Breese
1845
(Data for these years is being researched) 1849
-

1849
U.S.S. Cumberland 1851
-

1851
U.S.S. Independence
1852
-

1852
U.S.S. Cumberland 1855
-

1855
U.S.S. Constellation
(Need confirmation)

Jul 1856
-

Jul 1856
U.S.S. Susquehanna
Jul 1858
-

Jul 1858 U.S.S. Wabash
Nov 1859
-

Nov 1859 U.S.S. Iroquois (?)
Oct 1860
-

Oct 1860 U.S.S. Richmond (?)
Jun 1861
-

12 Apr 1861 - 09 Apr 1865
 American Civil War / War Between the States
Jun 1865
U.S.S. Colorado
28 Jun 1867
-

28 Jun 1867
U.S.S. Franklin
Nov 1868
-

Nov 1868
U.S.S. Ticonderoga
28 Jan 1869 -

28 Jan 1869
U.S.S. Franklin
18 Dec 1871
-

18 Dec 1871 U.S.S. Wabash
30 Nov 1873 -

Apr 1874
U.S.S. Franklin
14 Sep 1876
-

14 Sep 1876 U.S.S. Vandalia (?) 19 Apr 1877 (10)
19 Apr 1877
U.S.S. Trenton
07 Sep 1881
-
RADM John L. Worden
07 Sep 1881
U.S.S. Lancaster
1884
-

1884
(Data for these years is being researched) 1888
-

Apr 1888
U.S.S. Lancaster
 02 Jul 1889
-

02 Jul 1889
(Data for these years is being researched)
Jun 1893
-

Jun 1893
U.S.S. Chicago
Mar 1895
-

Mar 1895
(Data for these years is being researched) Dec 1899 -

Dec 1899
U.S.S. Chicago 1902
-

1902 (Data for these years is being researched) 1905
-

In 1905 the European Squadron is absorbed into the North Atlantic Fleet.
In 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt establishes the U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
01 Jan 1906
U.S.S. Maine (BB-10)
???
-

28 Jul 1914 - 28 Jun 1919
 World War  I     

June 1917

U. S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters is established.

Jun 1919 U.S.S. Pittsburgh CA-4
Jul 1921
(11)

Jul 1921
U.S.S. Utah BB-31
Oct 1922
-

In 1922 Naval Forces, Europe is organized.
Oct 1922 U.S.S. Pittsburgh CA-4 Jun 1926
-

Jun 1926
U.S.S. Memphis CL-13
Jul 1927 -

Jul 1927
U.S.S. Detroit CL-8
Aug 1928
-

Aug 1928 (Data for these years is being researched) Sep 1939 -

01 Sep 1939 - 02 Sep 1945
 World War II
01 Feb 1941
United States Fleet
is reorganized to form
U. S. Atlantic Fleet
U. S. Pacific Fleet and  U. S. Asiatic Fleet.
Start
Date

Ship's Name and Designation
(or Related Historical Event)
End
Date

Place Flag
Transferred
Commanding
Officer(s)
(?) 1947
U.S.S. Shenandoah AD-26
07 Aug 1947 -

07 Aug 1947 U.S.S. Dayton CL-105 Jun 1947
-

Jun 1947
USS Fargo CL-106 (1 month tour ±)
07 Aug 1947
-

07 Aug 1947
U.S.S. Dayton CL-105
Nov 1947
-

???
USS Fargo CL-106 (?) ???
-

01 Mar 1948
U.S.S. Rochester CA-124
14 Jun 1948
-

14 Jun 1948
USS Fargo CL-106
Sep 1948
-

Sep 1948
USS Albany CA-123 (7 month tour)
14 Mar 1949
-

14 Mar 1949
USS Fargo CL-106
Aug 1949
-

16 Sep 1949
USS Des Moines CA-134
06 Jan 1950
-

06 Jan 1950
USS Newport News CA-148
17 (26?) May 1950
(4)

17 (26?) May 1950 USS Salem CA-139
22 Sep 1950
-

22 Sep 1950
USS Newport News CA-148
29 Mar 1951
-

29 Mar 1951
USS Salem CA-139
19 Sep 1951
-

19 Sep 1951
USS Des Moines CA-134
28 Apr 1952
(1)

28 Apr 1952
USS Salem CA-139
29 Sep 1952
(2)

29 Sep 1952 USS Des Moines CA-134
08 Nov 1952
(3)

08 Nov 1952
USS Columbus CA-74
16 (18?) Jan 1953
(1)
16 (18?) Jan 1953 USS Newport News CA-148
? May 1953 (4)

? May 1953 USS Salem CA-139
09 Oct 1953
(10)
09 Oct 1953 USS Des Moines CA-134
12 May 1954
-

12 May 1954
USS Salem CA-139
22 Sep 1954
-

22 Sep 1954
USS Des Moines CA-134
Dec 1954
-

Dec 1954
USS Northampton CLC-1
19 Feb 1955
-

19 Feb 1955
USS Newport News CA-148
 (18?) 19 May 1955
-

(18?) 19 May 1955
USS Salem CA-139
23 Sep 1955
-

23 Sep 1955
USS Northampton CLC-1
Jan 1956
-

Jan 1956
USS Newport News CA-148
14 (21?) May 1956 (4)
14 (21?) May 1956
USS Salem CA-139
?? Jun 1958
-

?? Jun 1958
USS Des Moines CA-134
14 Dec 60
-

14 Dec 60
USS Springfield CLG-7
20 Feb 61
(6) (14)

20 Feb 61 USS Little Rock CLG-4
15 Aug 61 (6)
15 Aug 61 USS Newport News CA-148  ?? Dec 1961
-

?? Dec 1961
USS Boston CAG-1 ( 6 weeks ? )
?? Mar 1962
-

?? Mar 1962
USS Springfield CLG-7
11 May 63
(7)

11 May 63 USS Little Rock CLG-4
15 Dec 63 (8)

15 Dec 63 USS Springfield CLG-7
14 Dec 64 (4)
14 Dec 64
USS Little Rock CLG-4
?? Jun 65
-

?? June 65
USS Albany CG-10
28 Sep 65
(11)

28 Sep 65
USS Boston CAG-1
15 Mar 66
(12)

15 Mar 66 USS Albany CG-10 1966 (?)

1966 (?)
USS Springfield CLG-7
25 Jan 1967
(8)

25 Jan 1967 USS Little Rock CLG-4
22 Aug 1970 (9)
22 Aug 1970
USS Springfield CLG-7
01 Sep 1973
(9)

01 Sep 1973
USS Little Rock CLG-4
06 Sep 1976
(9)

06 Sep 1976
USS Albany CG-10
28 May 1980 (9)

28 May 1980
USS Puget Sound AD-38
Oct 1985
-

Oct 1985
USS Coronado AGF-11
Jul 1986
-

Jul 1986
USS Belknap CG 26
08 Nov 1994
-

08 Nov 1994
USS La Salle AGF-3
25 Feb 05
-

25 Feb 05
USS Mount Whitney LCC / JCC 20
Present (2011)
-


Notes:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.




11.
12.
13.
14.

Flag transfer occurred in Algiers, Algeria.
Flag transfer occurred in Tangiers, Morocco.
Flag transfer occurred in Malta.
Flag transfer occurred in Gibraltar.
Flag transfer occurred in Athens, Greece.
Flag transfer occurred in Pollens Bay, Mallorca.
Flag transfer occurred in Toulon, France.
Flag transfer occurred in Rota, Spain.
Flag transfer occurred in Gaeta, Italy.
Flag transfer occurred in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
Flag transfer occurred in Cherbourg, France
In 1815 the entire US naval force assembled in the Mediterranean under Commodore Wm. Bainbridge. This was the largest fleet ever assembled under the American flag in the Mediterranean up to that time. The force consisted of 18 warships, including ship-of-the-line Independence, 5 frigates, 2 sloops-of-war, 7 brigs, and 3 schooners.
Flag transfer occurred in Augusta Bay, Sicily.
Flag transfer occurred off the coast of Palomares, Spain.
Flag transfer occurred in Naples, Italy.
First time a guided missile ship has been assigned as flagship.

Commanders of the Sixth Fleet

(Also known at various times as the "Mediterranean Squadron", the "European Station",
the "European Squadron", "Naval Forces, Mediterranean", and the "Sixth Task Fleet".)

As with the list of Flagships shown above, some the names and dates in the following chart may be in error. The information shown is most likely accurate in content, but some of it is questionable as far as date accuracy. If you have any verifiable data that can add to the accuracy of the table, please send it to the Webmaster.

The "Start Date" and "End Date" columns indicate the beginning date and the ending date for a particular Fleet Commander's assignment. The use of (?) in a date indicates that the exact day, or moth, or year shown is in question.

The "Sixth Fleet" had many names over the years. In the "Fleet Name" column, the letters shown designate the name of the Fleet/Squadron at that particular time. (Links are typically to Wikipedia,)

Desig.
Squadron or Fleet Name(s) Used
Dates
M
Mediterranean Squadron (sometimes referred to as "Mediterranean Station")
1800
M1
First Mediterranean Squadron.
USS President
, Essex, Philadelphia, and Enterprise

M2
Second Mediterranean Squadron.
USS Columbia, Cumberland, Fairfield and Plymouth

M3
Third Mediterranean Squadron
M4
Fourth Mediterranean Squadron
E
European Squadron (also known as the European Station) ? - 1905
FN
North Atlantic Fleet (U.S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters)
1905 - 1917
FA
Atlantic Fleet
FM
Naval Forces Mediterranean
T
Sixth Task Fleet
6
Sixth Fleet


"Fleet" Commanders
Fleet
Name

Major World Events
Start Date
Name
End Date
        Date
Event
1801
Richard Dale
Apr 1802
M1
1801
• Operations against Tripoli.
Apr 1802 Richard V. Morris ??? 1803
M2


??? 1803
John Rodgers May 1803
M2


May 1803
Edward Preble
Sep 1804
M3
1803-1804
• War with the Barbary Pirates
Sep 1804
Samuel Barron
Nov 1804
M4
1804
• Napoleon crowned Emperor of France
Nov 1804
John Rodgers
May 1806
M4
1805
• British naval victory at Trafalgar
May 1806
Hugh G. Campbell Aug 1807
M4


Aug 1807
???
May 1815
M
1812-1815 • War of 1812.
•  Napoleon exiled 1814.
 May 1815
Stephen Decatur
1816
M
1815
• Second Barbary War
• Apparently two squadrons were involved.
1815
William Bainbridge 1815
M
1815
• Second Barbary War
• Apparently two squadrons were involved.
1815
Isaac Chauncey
01 Feb 1818
M

• Britain involved in 3rd Maratha War (India)
01 Feb 1818
Charles Stewart
1820
M
1819
• US purchases Florida from Spain.
1821
Jacob Jones
1823 ?
M
1823
• Monroe Doctrine enacted.
1823 ?
John O. Creigton 24 Nov 1824
M

24 Nov 1824
Thomas MacDonough
30 Apr 1825
M
1824
• British take Rangoon
30 Apr 1825 John Rodgers
31 May 1827
M

31 May 1827
William I. M. Crane
1829
M
1827
• Egyptian and Turkish naval fleets destroyed at Navarino
1829
???
1832
M
1828-1829
• Russo-Turkish War
1832
Daniel T. Patterson
1836
M
1832
• Britain occupies the Falkland Islands
1836
Jesse D. Elliott
1838
M
1836
• Texas wins independence from Mexico
1839
Isaac Hull
1841
M
1838-1842
• First Afghan War
1841
???
1843
M 1843 • First propeller driven ship crosses the Atlantic
1843
S.L. Breese
1845
M


1845
Joseph Smith
1847?
M


1847
???
1848
M
1845-1846
• U.S. - Mexican War
1848
William C. Bolton
1848
M
1848
• Revolt in Rome. Pope flees to Gaeta.
1850 Charles W. Morgan
1850
M
1850
Taiping rebellion in China
1850's
Elie A. F. Lavallette 1850's M


1856
Samuel L. Breese
1859
M
1856-1857
• British-Persian War
1860
Uriah P. Levy
1860
M
1860
Treaty of Savoy - Nice and Savoy ceded to France
1860
Charles H. Bell 1861 M


1861
???
1865
M
1861
• American Civil War begins.
1862
• Ironclads Monitor and the Merrimac battle
1863
• French troops occupy Mexico City
1864
• International Red Cross founded in Geneva
1865
Louis M. Goldsborough
May 1867
E
1865
• American Civil War ends. Lincoln shot.
1866
• Italian fleet destroyed by Austrians
1867
• USA buys Alaska for $7.2 million.
May 1867
David G. Farragut
Nov 1868
E
1868
• Spanish Revolution begins.
Nov 1868
William Radford Mar 1870
E
1869
• Spanish Revolution ends.
Mar 1870
Charles S. Boggs 01 Jan 1872
E

01 Jan 1872 James Alden Jr.
02 Jun 1873
E

02 Jun 1873
Augustus L. Case
1875
E
1872
• Civil war in Spain.
1875
John Lorimer Worden
1877
E
1876
• Nicholas Otto of Germany invents the  internal combustion engine.
1877

John C. Howell

16 Sep 1881 E 1879 • Panama Canal Co. is formed (France).
16 Sep 1881
James W. Nicholson
10 Mar 1883 E
1882
• Recoil operated machine gun patented.
10 Mar 1883 Charles H. Baldwin 1887
E
1883-1885
• Sino-French War (Vietnam)
1887
James A. Greer
1889
E
1888
• Nicolas Tesla builds the first electric motor.
1889

???

1895
E
1895
• Marconi invents radio telephony.
1895
Thomas O. Selfridge, Jr.
1898
E
1898-1901
• Spanish - American War
Note: The European Squadron (European Station) fleet vacated the Mediterranean at the
outset of the Spanish - American war, and did not return until July 1901.
31 Jul 1901
Bartlett J. Cromwell
09 Feb 02
E
1901-1902
• President McKinley assassinated on
   14 Sept 1901.
09 Feb 1902
Joseph E. Craig (SOP)
18 May 02
E
1902
• British-Boer War ends
18 May 1902 Arent Schuyler Crowninshield
1903
E
1902-1903
• June 16, 1903 Ford Motor Company
   is founded.
On 29 Dec 1902 the North Atlantic Squadron, operating in the North Atlantic was renamed North Atlantic Fleet.
1903
Albert Smith Barker
1905
E
1904-1905
Russo-Japanese War.
In 1905 the European Squadron was absorbed into the North Atlantic Fleet.
On Jan. 1, 1906 the North Atlantic Fleet became the Atlantic Fleet (USLANTFLT).
31 Mar 1905 Robley D. Evans 16 Apr 1907 FN 1905-1907 • "Great White Fleet"
16 Apr 1907 Charles S. Sperry 1909 FN 1908-1909
• "Great White Fleet"
From 16 Dec 1907 through 22 Feb 1909 the U.S. Navy's "Great White Fleet" under RADM Robley D. Evans (from Hampton Roads to San Francisco) and then RADM Charles S. Sperry (San Francisco to Hampton Roads) circumnavigates the globe.
1909
???
1917
FN


In 1917, US Naval Forces Operating in European Waters was established for the duration of World War I. (USA involved 1917-18)
1917 (?)
William S. Sims 1918 (?)



In 1922, Naval Forces, Europe was established.
1939 - 1945   World War II

1946 (?)
Bernhard H. Bieri
1948 (?)
T
1947, 12 Mar
Truman Doctrine initiated.
1947, 12 Jul Marshall Plan goes into effect.
Jan 1948
Forrest P. Sherman
03 Nov 1949
T


03 Nov 1949
John J. Ballentine
19 Mar 1951
6
1949, 04 Apr
NATO established
1950. 25 Jun Korean War begins 25 Jun 50
19 Mar 1951
Matthias B. Gardner
May 1952
(?)
6
1951-1952
Korean War
May 1952
(?)
John H. Cassady
08 Mar 1954
6
1953, 27 Jul Korean War ends.
1954, 21 Jan. USS Nautilus SSN-571 launched.
08 Mar 1954 Thomas S. Combs
1955
6


1955 (?)
Ralph A. Ofstie
12 Apr 1956
6


12 Apr 1956
Harry D. Felt
Aug 1956
6
1956, 26 Jul
• Egypt nationalizes
   Suez Canal
Aug 1956
Charles R. "Cat" Brown
Jan 1959 (?)
6
1956, 29 Oct
• Israel launches attack on
   Sinai Peninsula.
1956, 06 Nov • Cease fire in Sinai
1957, Apr-May • Tensions in Jordan
???
Clarence E. Ekstrom
???
6


Jan 1959 (?)
George W. Anderson Jr. Jul 1960
6
1960, 01 May
U2 spy plane shot down over
   Russia.
1961, 17 Apr Bay of Pigs, Cuba invasion
Jul 1960 (?)
David L. McDonald
18 Mar 63
6
1961, 13 Aug
Berlin Wall is erected.
1962, 14-28 Oct Cuban Missile Crisis
18 Mar 63
William E. Gentner Jr. Mar 1964
6
1963, 22 Nov Pres. John F. Kennedy
   is assassinated.
Mar 1964
William E. Ellis
May 66
6


1966
Frederick L. Ashworth
10 Apr 67
6


20 Jan 67
US Sixth Fleet headquarters
moves from Villefranche-sur-Mer,
France to Gaeta, Italy
20 Jan 67
6
Apr 1967
French president Charles de Gaulle requests NATO forces to withdraw from France.
(See NY Times article about Villefranche.)
10 Apr 67
William I. Martin
14 Aug 1968
6
1967, 5-10 Jun
• Arab - Israeli Six Day War
1967, 8-9 Jun • Attack on U.S.S. Liberty
1968, 23 Jan • Korea seizes U.S.S. Pueblo
14 Aug 68
David C. Richardson
Aug 1970
6


Aug 1970
Isaac C. Kidd Jr.
Oct 1971
6


Oct 1971
Gerald E. "Jerry" Miller
Jun 1973
6
1972, 05 Sep
• 11 Israeli athletes killed at
   Munich Olympics
Jun 1973
Daniel J. Murphy, Sr.
Sep 1974
6
1973, 6-26 Oct
• Arab-Israeli (Yom Kippur) War
1974, 20 Jul
Turkey invades Cyprus
Sep 1974
 Frederick C. Turner
Aug 1976
6
1975, 13 Apr
Civil war erupts in Lebanon.
1975, 05 Jun Suez Canal is reopened.
   USS Little Rock participates in
   ceremonies.
Aug 1976
Harry D. Train II
Sep 1978
6
1978, 17 Sep
Camp David Peace Accord signed
Sep 1978
James D. Watkins
Jul 1979
6
1979, Jan
Shah Pahlavi leaves Iran. Ayatollah
   Khomeini takes over.
Jul 1979
William N. Small
Jun 1981
6
1979, 04 Nov

1980, 24 Apr

1980, 22 Sep
1981, 20 Jan
• Iranian militants seize U.S.
   embassy in Tehran.
• Abortive hostage rescue attempt
  in Tehran
• 8-year Iran-Iraq war begins.
• Reagan inaugurated. Iran releases
  52 hostages.
Jun 1981
William H. Rowden
Jul 1983
6
1982, 04 Jun
• Israel invades Lebanon
Marines evacuate PLO from Beirut
Jul 1983
Edward H. Martin
Feb 1985
6
1983, 18 Apr
1983, 23 Oct

1983, 25 (Oct
1984, 30 Mar
Bombing of U.S. Embassy, 63 die.
• Bombing of Marine Barracks
   in Beirut kills 241
• US invasion of Grenada.
• Reagan ends U.S. role in Beirut by
  relieving Sixth Fleet from peace-
  keeping force.
08 Feb 1985
Frank B. Kelso II
30 Jun 1986
6
1985, 14 Jun

1985, 07 Oct


1986, 15 Apr
• TWA Flt. 847 hijacked. Navy
   diver Robert Stethem killed.
• Italian cruise ship, Achille Lauro,
  with 80 passengers, plus crew is
  hijacked by PLO.
U.S. planes attack Libyan
   terrorist centers.
Jun 1986
Kendall E. Moranville
20 Aug 1988
6
1987, 20 Jan

1987, 17 May

1988, 03 Jul


1986, 12 Sep
Wm. Buckley, US. hostage in
  Lebanon, reported slain.
• Iraqi missiles kill 37 in attack on
  USS Stark FFG-31 in Persian Gulf.
USS Vincennes CG-49  shoots
   down Iranian Air Flight 655.
   290 killed.
• Lebanese Shiites kidnap American
  Joseph Cicippio
20 Aug 1988
James D. Williams
Nov 1990
6
1988, 20 Aug
1989, 04 Jan

1989, 11 Nov
1990, 06 Jul

1990, 02 Aug
• 8-year Iran-Iraq war ends
Gulf of Sidra incident. U.S. planes shoot
   down 2 Libyan MiG-23 fighters.
Berlin Wall is open to West.
• Hezbollah kill Col. William R.
   Higgins, USMC.
Iraq invades Kuwait.
Nov 1990
William A. "Bill" Owens
Jul 1992
6
1991, 15 Jan
1991, 03 Apr
1992, 01 Feb
• U.S. and Allies at war with Iraq.
• Cease-fire ends Persian Gulf War.
• Bush and Yeltsin proclaim end to cold war.
Jul 1992
Thomas J. Lopez
Dec 1993
6


Dec 1993
Joseph W. Prueher
Apr 1995
6


Apr 1995
Donald L. Pilling
Jul 1996
6


Jul 1996
Charles S. Abbot
Jul 1998
6
1996, 31 Aug
 02-03 Sep
• Iraqis strike at Kurdish enclave
• U.S. attacks Iraq's southern air
  defenses.
Jul 1998
Daniel J. Murphy, Jr.
Oct 2000
6
1998, 07 Aug

1999. 04 Sep
• U.S. embassies in Kenya and
  Tanzania are bombed.
• Israel and PLO announce peace
  accord.
Oct 2000
Gregory G. Johnson
Oct 2001
6
2001, 11 Sep
• Terrorists attack US World Trade
   Center in NY City and the
   Pentagon. Death toll is 3,000+.
   Osama bin Laden and  al-Qaeda
   are identified as behind the
   attacks.
Oct 2001
Scott A. Fry
Nov 2003
6
2002, 02 Mar



2003, 19 Mar

2003, 09 Apr
2003, 19 Aug

2003, 15 Nov
• U.S. and Afghan troops launch
   Operation Anaconda against
   al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters
   in Afghanistan.
• The US and Britain launch war
  against Iraq.
• Baghdad falls to U.S. troops.
• UN headquarters bombing in
  Baghdad kills 24.
• Suicide bombers kill 25 in
   synagogues in Istanbul.
Nov 2003
Harry G. Ulrich III
20 May 2005
6
2004, 11 Mar


2004, 29 Mar

• Terrorist attacks in Spain kill
   more than 200. Al-Qaeda takes
   responsibility.
• NATO admits seven new
   countries: Bulgaria, Estonia,
   Latvia, Lithuania, Romania,
   Slovakia, and Slovenia.
20 May 2005
John "Boomer" Stufflebeem
21 Sep 2007
6
2005, 24 Jun



2005, 07 Jul
• Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wins
   Iran's presidential election.
   He defiantly pursues Iran's
   nuclear ambitions.
• London hit by Islamic terrorist
   bombings, killing 52 and
   wounding about 700.
21 Sep 2007
James A. Winnefeld, Jr.
Aug 2008
6


Aug 2008
Bruce W. Clingan
Nov 2009
6


Nov 2009
Harry B. Harris, Jr.
03 Oct 11
6


03 Oct 11 Frank C. Pandolph Present 6


Other Operations Involving the Sixth Fleet
(Some of these are links to other websites)

Operation Blue Bat in Lebanon 15 Jul 58
USS Liberty Incident 08-09 Jun 67
Operation Eagle Claw 24 Apr 80
Operation El Dorado Canyon 15 Apr 86
Operation Praying Mantis 18 Apr 88

Operation Shining Hope Apr 99
Operation Allied Force Mar - Jun 99
Operation Joint Guardian 1999 - ongoing

SIXTH FLEET COMMAND BASIC OVERVIEW

Since leaving Villefranche-sur-Mer, France in 1967, the U.S. Sixth Fleet flagship has been stationed in Gaeta, Italy. The Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea encompasses task forces, battle groups, amphibious forces, support ships, land-based surveillance aircraft, and submarines. Its role has been important since the early 19th century to the U.S. Navy's commitment to forward presence.

As homeport to the Sixth Fleet flagship, Gaeta hosts the staff of USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC/JCC20) as well as U.S. Naval Support Activity, Gaeta. However, Gaeta's relationship with the U.S. Navy did not start in 1967. Long before the USS Little Rock sailed into Gaeta's harbor, Pope Pius IX and Ferdinand II, King of the two Kingdoms of Sicily, paid visit to the USS Constitution in 1849. Eight flagships later, the ties between the Italian and American communities have strengthened as Americans come to Gaeta eager to experience a new culture and make new friends.

The current Sixth Fleet flagship, the USS MOUNT WHITNEY, provides command ship facilities and support to Commander, Naval Forces Europe (CNE) / Commander, Sixth Fleet (COMSIXTHFLT), and his embarked staff. With the ability and space available to embark a Joint Task Force staff when necessary, USS MOUNT WHITNEY greatly increases the flexibility of the U.S. Sixth Fleet commander and his staff. Additionally, MOUNT WHITNEY has been outfitted with state-of-the-art command, control, and communications electronic equipment. Any operation or exercise involving sea, air, land, and amphibious forces can be controlled and directed from the flagship while at sea or in port, which further increases the U.S. Sixth Fleet's capability to respond to crisis or contingency operations.

Flagships which have been stationed in Gaeta, Italy
Flagship
Navsource Website
Shipmates' or Wikipedia Site
USS Little Rock  CLG-4
USS Little Rock
Shipmates
USS Springfield  CLG-7
USS Springfield
Wikipedia
USS Albany  CG-10
USS Albany
Shipmates
USS Puget Sound  AD-38
USS Puget Sound
Wikipedia
USS Coronado  AGF-11
USS Coronado
Shipmates
USS Belknap  CG-26
USS Belknap
Shipmates
USS La Salle  AGF-3
USS La Salle
Wikipedia
USS Mount Whitney  LCC-20
USS Mount Whitney
Wikipedia

The present make-up of the 6th Fleet

Sixth Fleet currently consists of approximately 40 ships, 175 aircraft and 21,000 people. The Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean is the major operational component of Naval Forces Europe. The principal striking power of the Sixth Fleet resides in its aircraft carriers and their modern jet aircraft, its submarines, and its reinforced battalion of US Marines on board amphibious ships deployed in the Mediterranean.

Commander, Sixth Fleet has both US national and NATO responsibilities. He reports to the Commander-In-Chief, US Naval Forces, Europe (CinCUSNavEur) in the US chain of command and to CinCSouth when the Sixth Fleet operates as part of NATO as StrikForSouth.

CinC Naval Forces Europe, based in London, is responsible for US naval operations in the European area, and also holds the NATO position of CinC Allied Forces Southern Europe, responsible to the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe. The CINC Naval Forces Europe does not have administrative responsibilities for support of US naval forces in Europe, which are under the cognizance of CINC Atlantic Fleet.

The United States Sixth Fleet is operationally organized into task forces. Each task force is responsible to the Sixth Fleet Commander for specific functions related to assigned units. The Sixth Fleet Command Ship is forward deployed to Gaeta, Italy.

Area of Operations:  Mediterranean Sea

Headquarters:  Naples, Italy

The Sixth Fleet Task Forces

Task Force 60:

Task Force 60 is Sixth Fleet's Battle Force. It is composed of one or more aircraft carriers, each with an accompanying complement of approximately six cruisers and destroyers. On board the aircraft carrier is an air wing of 65 - 85 aircraft. The air wing is the primary striking arm of the Battle Force, and includes attack, fighter, anti-submarine, and reconnaissance aircraft. Ships accompanying the carrier serve as defensive and offensive platforms with duties involving anti-air, surface and submarine warfare. In addition to its major role of controlling the seas, the Battle Force can also project its power over land.

Task Force 61:

Task Force 61 is the Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group (MARG). It is composed of approximately three amphibious ships and their embarked landing craft. From these ships, United States Marine ground forces can move ashore by sea and air in amphibious assault of emergency evacuation missions. Once ashore, the ships of Task Force 61 logistically support the ground forces, until the objective of the landing has been accomplished, and the Marine Forces return to the ships.

Task Force 62:

Task Force 62 is the combat-ready ground force composed of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) of approximately 1,800 Marines. Transported in Task Force 61 ships, the MEU is equipped with armor, artillery, and transport helicopters that enable it to conduct operations ashore, or evacuate civilians from troubled areas.

Task Force 63:

Task Force 63 is the Logistics Force. Composed of oilers, provision ships, and repair ships, its mission is the delivery of supplies at sea, and effecting repairs to other ships and equipment of the Fleet.

Task Force 64:

Task Force 64 was the SSBN Force assigned to COMSIXTHFL. Until the end of the 1970th these ships were homeported in Rota, Spain.
In times of war the COMSIXTHFL had not had direct influence on the selection of the targets that would have been attacked by the SSBNs. These targets were annually chosen by the NATO's Nuclear Target Planning Group.

Task Force 66 / 69:

Task Force 66 / 69 is responsible for planning and coordinating area submarine and anti-submarine warfare operations in the Mediterranean. Specifically, Task Force 69 is composed of attack submarines that provide capability to destroy enemy surface ships and submarines, as well as protect other Sixth Fleet ships from attack.

Task Force 67:

Task Force 67 is composed of land-based maritime patrol aircraft. These aircraft operate over the waters of the Mediterranean in anti- submarine, reconnaissance, surveillance, and mining roles.

What Command does the "Sixth Fleet" come under?


•   The earliest formal presence of the US Navy was the Mediterranean Squadron,

•   which became the European Squadron following the American Civil War

•   In 1906 ships operating in the Mediterranean were part of the North Atlantic Fleet (Squadron).

•   In 1917, the title changed to United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

•   In 1922, Naval Forces, Europe (NAVEUR) was established.

•   Nov 1946, NAVEUR became Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean COMNELM.

•   In Apr 1947 COMNELM changed to Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean (CINCNELM).

•   Jun 1951 CINCNELM joins with Commander in Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH) and headquarters  moves from London to Naples.

•   Jun 1952, the two commands were separated. CINCNELM Headquarters returned to London and CINCSOUTH remained in Naples

•   Sep 1958 CINCNELM adds U.S. Commander Eastern Atlantic (USCOMEASTLANT).

•   Feb 1960  title changes to Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe (CINCUSNAVEUR). (CINCNELM title is retained for command in the Middle East. CINCNELM is then disestablished on 01 Feb 1964.)

•   During most of the intervening years, CINCUSNAVEUR has exercised direct command over four subordinate commanders:

          Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet (COMSIXTHFLT)
          Commander, Fleet Air Mediterranean (COMFAIRMED)
          Commander, Middle East Force (COMIDEASTFOR)
          Commander, U.S. Naval Activities, United Kingdom (COMNAVACT UK).

•   CINCSOUTH and CINCUSNAVEUR are joined on 01 Jan 1983.

•   In 2002, the command changed its name to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe (COMUSNAVEUR).

•   Mar 15, 2004, NATO’s Joint Force Command (COMJFC) Naples is activated. COMUSNAVEUR continues to be dual-hatted as COMJFC Naples.

•   Aug 2005 COMUSNAVEUR headquarters completed its relocation to Naples, Italy from London.
The following is a Sixth Fleet History summary published a part of a USS Little Rock brochure in the 1970's:

HISTORY of the SIXTH FLEET

Warships of the United States Navy have cruised the Mediterranean Sea since the early nineteenth century. Beginning with the war with Tripoli in 1801, and almost continuously since 1886, American sea power has operated in this area of more than one million square miles which the ancient people called "the center of the earth."

In the unsettled years immediately following World War I, ships of the United States Mediterranean Squadron helped maintain peace among the countries of the Balkans and the Middle East.

In World War II, the Mediterranean again played an important part in U.S. plans. U.S. naval forces supported the November 1942 landing in North Africa, the Sicilian landings of July and August, 1943, and the Anzio landings of January, 1944. On August 5,1944, powerful U.S. naval forces landed U. S. armies in Southern France as a sequel to the Allied landings in Normandy. The performance of U.S. naval forces in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Theaters played a decisive part in the victory of the Allied nations in Europe.

In the spring of 1945, U.S. naval strength in the Mediterranean was reduced, but small detachments were maintained in Italy to support the U.S. Army, to assist U.S. merchant shipping, and to continue representation on the Allied Commission for Italy.

The summer of 1945 saw U.S. naval activities in the Mediterranean further reduced. Liberated ports were rapidly returned to national authorities and some ships of the Mediterranean Fleet were redeployed to the Pacific. But the end of World War II found the United States Navy continuing to maintain a few ships in the strategic Mediterranean to protect American interests and to support United States policies in the area.

This small postwar fleet, known as Naval Forces, Mediterranean, was commanded by Vice Admiral Bernhard H. Bieri, USN. The flagship, a destroyer tender anchored at Naples, did not operate with the Fleet at sea, but stayed in Naples. On August 7, 1947, the cruiser USS DAYTON relieved the tender SHENANDOAH and became the first postwar Mediterranean Fleet Flagship actually to operate at sea. Cruisers have served as the Fleet Flagship since that time.

On June 1, 1948, the title of Commander Naval Forces, Mediterranean was changed to Commander Sixth Task Fleet, and on February 12, 1950, this title was simplified to Commander Sixth Fleet. Commanders of the Fleet succeeding Vice Admiral Bieri have been Vice Admirals Forrest Sherman, John J. Ballentine, Matthias B. Gardner, John J. Cassady, Thomas S. Combs, Ralph A. Ofstie, Harry D. Felt, Charles R. Brown, Clarence E. Ekstrom, George W. Anderson, Jr., David L. McDonald, William E. Gentner, Jr., William E. Ellis, and Frederick L. Ash worth. Vice Admiral William I. Martin took command on April 10, 1967.

The Sixth Fleet has played a significant role during many periods of extreme tension in the Mediterranean. Most noteworthy were the evacuation of U. S. citizens and other foreign nationals from Israel and Egypt during the Suez crisis of October 1956, and the landing of Sixth Fleet Marines in Lebanon in July, 1958, at the request of the government of that nation.

* * * *    Your input is important. To submit changes, corrections, or new data, please contact the Webmaster.    * * * *

Contributors include:

  Robert "Bob" Moody  USMC 1951-1954 / Flag Marine 1952-1953 USS SALEM CA-139, USS NEWPORT NEWS CA-148, USS DES MOINES CA-134

Back to Sixth Fleet Commanders Page

Back to Chronological History Page

Back to History & Facts Page

Back to Home Page

Additions? Changes? Comments?
Contact Webmaster