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SOUTH CHINA SEA - The U.S. Seventh Fleet celebrated its 70th anniversary with a ceremony and cake cutting aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) March 15.
The ceremony marked the beginning of a yearlong initiative commemorating 70 years of forward presence and its vital role in promoting peace and stability in a critically strategic region.
The 7th Fleet was established March 15, 1943 under the command of Vice Adm. Arthur S. Carpender, and today it is the largest forward-deployed U.S. Fleet in a region of immense and growing importance to both the world and U.S. interests.
"We have been here for 70 years committed to ensuring stability, regional cooperation and economic security in the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and around the world," said Vice Admiral Scott Swift, Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet. "We maintain a ready force in this region at all times."
Vice Adm. Swift attended the ceremony and spoke to his staff about the rich history of the fleet and the importance of their duty.
"The 7th Fleet is the only permanent forward deployed fleet," said Swift. "We have served in this area of responsibility since the very beginning and that is something to be proud of."
In true U.S. Navy tradition as the oldest and youngest members of the staff, Fleet Surgeon Capt. Viswanadham Pothula and Yeoman Seaman Recruit Dalton Mercurio along with Swift cut the ceremonial cake with a sword. The 7th Fleet Band provided music for the occasion on board as part of 7th Fleet's 2013 patrol travelling throughout the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.
Throughout the last 70 years, 7th Fleet sailors have provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to numerous countries devastated by natural and manmade disasters and the impact of 7th Fleet has resonated throughout the region.
"We are more than simply a military force," said Swift. "The fleet has highly trained quality Sailors and Marines committed to this region. Whether the threat to safety, security or stability is manmade or a force of nature, the U.S. 7th Fleet has credibly demonstrated not only its ability to meet the challenge but inherent flexibility to take on almost any challenge."
The 7th fleet has been in the forefront of U.S. forces involved in the Pacific campaigns of World War II, and the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, and the Arabian Gulf. The 7th fleet has stood with America's Asian allies and maritime partners to maintain peace and stability in the region.
The 7th Fleet encompasses more than 48 million square miles, or 124 million square kilometers and at any given time, there are 60-70 ships, 200-300 aircraft and 40,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel assigned. Building and maintaining partnerships with allied nations is a key 7th Fleet mission, with ships making more than 500 port visits to 35 countries every year.
"My goal is to ensure the 7th Fleet maintains course and speed and executes the three persistent priorities that have served the Fleet so well: maximizing warfighting readiness, maritime partnerships, and force posture," said Swift. "I can say with complete confidence that our forces are ready and our partnerships are stronger than they have ever been."
Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, is embarked aboard the USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.