The US 2nd Fleet has achieved initial operational capability (IOC) and is now ready to lead Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS).

The IOC announcement was made by US 2nd Fleet commander vice-admiral Andrew Lewis on Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. The news comes around a year since the command was brought back into service.

Lewis said: “The North Atlantic has some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, and with the opening of waterways in the Arctic, this traffic will only grow.

“This is a fact acknowledged by both our allies and competitors, and as such, it is critically important US 2nd Fleet reinvigorates the way our forces are employed in this influential theatre.”

The fleet has achieved the capability to command and control forces assigned and will focus on high-end training and employment of assigned assets.

It will support the deployment of forces on the Western side of the Atlantic, the Eastern side of the Atlantic, or in the Arctic.

BALTOPS is set to take place in the Baltic Sea next month. It will be the fleet’s maiden operation in Europe.

The exercise is intended to improve effectiveness, interoperability and integrated combat capabilities with allies and partners in the region.

It will see the US and Nato allies and partners performing exercises for a period of two weeks.

Lewis added: “BALTOPS 2019 is our collective opportunity to promote peace and security through cooperation, collaboration, interoperability, and an unambiguous display of strength in the Baltic region.

“The North Atlantic has some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.”

“As an alliance, increasing our capabilities across all-domains, as well as building a command-wide network will give us the ability to deter aggression and project stability.”

The 2nd Fleet has operational and administrative control over assigned ships, aircraft and landing forces on the East Coast and North Atlantic.

It is also responsible for planning and performing maritime, joint and combined operations.