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Allied Command Atlantic
ACLANT Emblem.
Active 30 January 1952 - 19 June 2003
Allegiance NATO
Size Command
Headquarters Norfolk, Virginia,
Nickname(s) SACLANT
Engagements Cold War

The Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) was one of two supreme commanders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the other being the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). The SACLANT led Allied Command Atlantic, based at Norfolk, Virginia. The entire command was routinely referred to as 'SACLANT'.

The command's missions were:[citation needed]

The command's area of responsibility extended from the North Pole to the Tropic of Cancer as well as extending from the east coast of the North America to the west coast of Africa and Europe, including Portugal but not the English Channel, the British Isles, and the Canary Islands.[1]


Soon after its formation, ACLANT together with Allied Command Europe carried out the large exercise Exercise Mainbrace, Throughout the Cold War years, SACLANT carried out many other exercises, such as Operation Mariner in 1953 and Operation Strikeback in 1957, as well as the Northern Wedding and Ocean Safari series of naval exercises during the 1970s and 1980s. The command also played a critical role in the annual Exercise REFORGER from the 1970s onwards. Following the end of the Cold War, the Command was reduced in status and size, with many of its subordinate headquarters spread across the Atlantic area losing their NATO status and funding. However, the basic structure remained in place until the Prague Summit in the Czech Republic in 2002.

Carrier-based air strike operations in the Norwegian Sea pioneered by Operation Strikeback became the cornerstone of the forward defense of NATO's northern flank as set forth in the U.S. Navy's Maritime Strategy. The Maritime Strategy was published in 1984, championed by Secretary of the Navy John Lehman and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral James D. Watkins, USN, during the Reagan Administration, and practiced in NATO naval exercises such as Ocean Safari '85 and Northern Wedding '86.[2][3][4][5]

In a 2008 article, retired General Bernard E. Trainor, USMC, noted the success of this maritime strategy:

By going on the immediate offensive in the high north and putting the Soviets on the defensive in their home waters, the Maritime Strategy not only served to defend Scandinavia, but also served to mitigate the SLOC problem. The likelihood of timely reinforcement of NATO from the United States was now more than a pious hope.

With the emergence of an offensive strategy in the 1980s, a change in mindset was energized by concurrent dramatic advances in American technology, especially in C4ISR and weapon systems, that were rapidly offsetting Soviet numerical and material superiority in Europe. No lesser light than the USSR Chief of the General Staff, Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov warned that American superiority was shifting the "correlation of forces" in NATO's favor. He called the phenomenon a "military technological revolution." By the end of the decade the military threat from the Soviet Union was consigned to the dust bin of history and with it, the Cold War.[6][7]

The U.S. Navy's Forward Maritime Strategy provided the strategic rationale for the 600-ship Navy program.[8][9]

Allied Command Atlantic was decommissioned effective 19 June 2003, and a new Allied Command Transformation (ACT) was established as its successor. This new NATO command is headed by the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), up to 2009 an American four-star admiral or general who is dual-hatted as commander, United States Joint Forces Command (COMUSJFCOM), with SACLANT's former military missions folded into NATO's Allied Command Operations (ACO).[10]


The high command of ACLANT comprised the following positions:

SACLANT headquarters was located in Norfolk, Virginia, adjacent to the U.S. Atlantic Fleet headquarters.[11]

Allied Command Eastern Atlantic (EASTLANT)

The Commander-in-Chief Eastern Atlantic (CINCEASTLANT) was responsible for the administration and operation of the Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT), on behalf of the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic (SACLANT). CINCEASTLANT was a British four-star admiral based at Northwood, United Kingdom who also served as the Commander in Chief of the Home Fleet (subsequently CINC Western Fleet, and later CINCFLEET).[12][13]

EASTLANT was orgazined in the following sub-areas:[14]

Allied Command Western Atlantic (WESTLANT)

The Commander-in-Chief Western Atlantic (CINCWESTLANT) was responsible for:

  • The safe transit of critical reinforcement and re-supply from North America to Europe, in support of the full spectrum of NATO forces operating anywhere in or beyond NATO's area of responsibility
  • The sponsorship of peacetime joint multinational exercises and Partnership for Peace (PfP) activities, as well as maintaining operational control and providing support for NATO forces assigned to the headquarters

CINCWESTLANT was an American four-star admiral based in Norfolk, Virginia who also serves of the Commander-in-Chief U.S. Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT).[15] Through 1994, WESTLANT was orgazined in the following sub-areas:[14]

  • Submarine Force Western Atlantic
  • Ocean Sub-Area
  • Canadian Atlantic Sub-Area
  • Island Commander Bermuda
  • Island Commander Azores[16]

From 1994 through 2003, WESTLANT was organized as follows:[17]

Allied Command Southern Atlantic (SOUTHLANT)

The Commander-in-Chief Southern Atlantic (CINCSOUTHLANT) was responsible for military movements and maritime operations across the southeast boundary between the Allied Command European (ACE) and Allied Command Atlantic (ACLANT). CINCSOUTHLANT was a Portuguese three-star admiral based in Lisbon, Portugal, and was formerly known as Commander-in-Chief Iberian Atlantic Area (CINCIBERLANT) prior to the standing up of SOUTHLANT.[18] The command is now Joint Command Lisbon.

Striking Fleet Atlantic

The Commander Striking Fleet Atlantic (COMSTRIKFLTLANT) was the major subordinate at-sea commander for SACLANT. The primary mission of Striking Fleet Atlantic was to deter aggression by maintaining maritime superiority in the Atlantic AOR and ensuring the integrity of NATO's sea lines of communications. Its main striking force was the Carrier Striking Force (seemingly Task Force 401), consisting of Carrier Striking Groups One and Two. The Carrier Striking Force appears to have had an American nucleus, built around Carrier Group Four, and Carrier Striking Group Two appears to have had a British nucleus, later, it seems, becoming Anti-Submarine Group Two.[19] When HMS Ark Royal took part in Exercise Royal Knight circa 1972, she formed the centrepiece of Striking Group Two and led Task Group 401.2.[20]

The Striking Fleet's Commander was an U.S. Navy Vice Admiral based at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia who also served as the Commander U.S. Second Fleet.[14][21] STRIKFLTLANT was deactivated in a ceremony to be held on USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) on June 24, 2005, being replaced by Combined Joint Operations from the Sea Center of Excellence located at the Second Fleet headquarters.[22]

Submarine Allied Command Atlantic (SUBACLANT)

The Commander Submarine Allied Command Atlantic (COMSUBACLANT) was the principal adviser to the SACLANT on submarine matters and undersea warfare. COMSUBACLANT was an American three-star admiral based in Norfolk, Virginia, who also served as the Commander Submarine Force Atlantic Fleet (COMSUBLANT).[23] Under SUBACLANT were Commander, Submarines, Western Atlantic Area (COMSUBWESTLANT) and Commander, Submarines, Eastern Atlantic Area (COMSUBEASTLANT). COMSUBEASTLANT's national appointment was the Royal Navy post of Flag Officer Submarines.[24] Flag Officer Submarines moved in 1978 from HMS Dolphin at Gosport to the Northwood Headquarters in northwest London.

Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT)

The Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT) was a permanent peacetime multinational naval squadron composed of destroyers, cruisers and frigates from the navies of various NATO nations. Since its creation in 1967, STANAVFORLANT operated, trained, and exercised as a group, providing day-to-day verification of current NATO maritime procedures, tactics and effectiveness, as well as participated in NATO and national naval exercises designed to promote readiness and interoperability [25] STANAVFORLANT was renamed Standing NRF Maritime Group 1 on 1 January 2005.


List of Supreme Allied Commanders Atlantic

Date Incumbent Service
1 30 Jan 1952 - 12 Apr 1954 ADM Lynde D. McCormick USN
2 12 Apr 1954 - 29 Feb 1960 ADM Jerauld Wright USN
3 29 Feb 1960 - 30 Apr 1963 ADM Robert L. Dennison USN
4 30 Apr 1963 - 30 Apr 1965 ADM Harold Page Smith USN
5 30 Apr 1965 - 17 Jun 1967 ADM Thomas H. Moorer USN
6 17 Jun 1967 - 30 Sep 1970 ADM Ephraim P. Holmes USN
7 30 Sep 1970 - 31 Oct 1972 ADM Charles K. Duncan USN
8 31 Oct 1972 - 30 May 1975 ADM Ralph W. Cousins USN
9 30 May 1975 - 30 Sep 1978 ADM Isaac C. Kidd Jr. USN
10 30 Sep 1978 - 30 Sep 1982 ADM Harry D. Train II USN
11 30 Sep 1982 - 27 Nov 1985 ADM Wesley L. McDonald USN
12 27 Nov 1985 - 22 Nov 1988 ADM Lee Baggett Jr. USN
13 22 Nov 1988 - 18 May 1990 ADM Frank B. Kelso II USN
14 18 May 1990 - 13 Jul 1992 ADM Leon A. Edney USN
15 13 Jul 1992 - 31 Oct 1994 ADM Paul David Miller USN
16 31 Oct 1994 - 24 Sep 1997 GEN John J. Sheehan USMC
17 24 Sep 1997 - 05 Sep 2000 ADM Harold W. Gehman, Jr. USN
18 05 Sep 2000 - 02 Oct 2002 GEN William F. Kernan USA
(Acting) Oct 2002 - 19 June 2003 Adm Sir Ian Forbes [26] RN

List of Deputy Supreme Allied Commanders Atlantic

His Second-in-Command was the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic:[27]

Date Incumbent Service
1 1952 - 1953 Vice Admiral Sir William Andrewes RN
2 1953 - 1955 Vice Admiral Sir John Stevens RN
3 1955 - 1956 Vice Admiral Sir John Eaton RN
4 1957 - 1960 Vice Admiral Sir Wilfrid Woods RN
5 1960 - 1962 Vice Admiral Sir Charles Evans RN
6 1962 - 1964 Vice Admiral Sir Richard Smeeton RN
7 1964 - 1966 Vice Admiral Sir William Beloe RN
8 1966 - 1968 Vice Admiral Sir David Clutterbuck RN
9 1968 - 1970 Vice Admiral Sir Peter Compston RN
10 1970 - 1973 Vice Admiral Sir John Martin RN
11 1973 - 1975 Vice Admiral Sir Gerard Mansfield RN
12 1975 - 1977 Vice Admiral Sir James Jungius RN
13 1977 - 1980 Vice Admiral Sir David Loram RN
14 1980 - 1982 Vice Admiral Sir Cameron Rusby RN
15 1983 - 1984 Vice Admiral Sir David Hallifax RN
16 1984 - 1987 Vice Admiral Sir Geoffrey Dalton RN
17 1987 - 1989 Vice Admiral Sir Richard Thomas RN
18 1989 - 1991 Vice Admiral Sir James Weatherall RN
19 1991 - 1993 Vice Admiral Sir Peter Woodhead RN
20 1993 - 1995 Vice Admiral Sir Peter Abbott RN
21 1995 - 1998 Vice Admiral Sir Ian Garnett RN
22 1998 - 2002 Vice Admiral Sir James Perowne RN
23 Jan - Oct 2002 Vice Admiral Sir Ian Forbes RN

See also


  1. "Allied Command Atlantic". NATO Handbook. Archived from the original on 2001-11-07. Retrieved 2008-09-03. [dead link]
  2. Trainor, Bernard E. (March 23 1987). "Lehman's Sea-War Strategy Is Alive, but for How Long?". Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  3. "Ocean Safari '85: Meeting the Threat in the North Atlantic" (PDF). January 1986. pp. 20–29. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  4. Connors, Tracy (January 1987). "Northern Wedding '86" (PDF). pp. 18–27. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  5. Tangen, Odd F. (1989). "The Situation In The Norwegian Sea Today". CSC. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  6. Trainor, Bernard E. (February 2008). "Triumph in Strategic Thinking". p. 42. 
  7. For a brief overview on the Soviet concept of correlation of forces, see Major Richard E. Porter, USAF. "Correlation of Forces: Revolutionary Legacy" Air University Review, March–April 1977
  8. Allen, Thad; Conway, James T., Roughead, Gary (November 2007). "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower". pp. 14–20. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  9. Lehman, John (November 2007). "A Bravura Performance". pp. 22–24. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  10. "New NATO Transformation Command Established in Norfolk". American Forces Press Service. United States Department of Defense. 19 June 2003. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  11. Key, Jr., David M. (2001). Admiral Jerauld Wright: Warrior among Diplomats. Manhattan, Kansas: Sunflower University Press. pp. 299–304. ISBN 978-0-89745-251-9. 
  12. "Regional Headquarters, Eastern Atlantic". NATO Handbook. Archived from the original on 2009-01-15. Retrieved 2008-09-03. [dead link]
  13. NATO official information via
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Source: IISS Military Balance 1981-82, p.26
  15. "Regional Headquarters, Western Atlantic". NATO Handbook. Archived from the original on 2009-05-12. Retrieved 2008-09-03. [dead link]
  16. A Portuguese Navy rear admiral. Library of Congress Country Study: Portugal: Navy, January 1993, accessed 21 June 2008
  17. NATO's Sixteen Nations, Special Issue, 1998, p.15
  18. "Regional Headquarters, Southern Atlantic". NATO Handbook. Archived from the original on 2001-05-31. Retrieved 2008-09-03. [dead link]
  19. See List of fleets and major commands of the Royal Navy, Flag Officer Third Flotilla, and Proceedings, August 2001, 'Commanding NATO operations from the sea'
  20. Rowland White, Phoenix Squadron, Bantam Press, 2009, 99.
  21. "Striking Fleet Atlantic". NATO Handbook. Archived from the original on 2007-07-17. Retrieved 2008-09-03. [dead link]
  22. "NATO Striking Fleet Atlantic to Deactivate". Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet Public Affairs. U.S. Navy. June 23, 2005. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  23. "Submarine Allied Command Atlantic". NATO Handbook. Archived from the original on 2001-05-31. Retrieved 2008-09-03. [dead link]
  24. UK MOD, Northwood Headquarters
  25. "Standing Naval Force Atlantic". NATO Handbook. Archived from the original on 2009-01-15. Retrieved 2008-09-03. [dead link]
  26. Nato Review
  27. Senior Royal Navy appointments

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 50°29′58″N 3°59′02″E / 50.49944°N 3.98389°E / 50.49944; 3.98389

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