The Navy’s newest submarine squadron stood up Dec. 15 at Naval Support Activity Bahrain. 

Commander, Submarine Squadron (CSS) 21 replaces the Commander, Task Force (CTF) 54 detachment as the organization charged with supporting submarines forward-deployed to the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), which encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area including the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.

“It is a great honor to be establishing this forward-deployed squadron and to be part of the clear message to our partner nations of the continuing U.S. commitment to the region,” said Capt. Michael A. Fisher, commodore of Submarine Squadron 21. “I have the privilege of having a great staff that are ready to hit the ground running and I look forward to working with them.”

CSS 21 replaces an existing small detachment of CTF 54. The squadron will be under CTF 54’s operational control and will have tactical control of submarines deployed to the 5th Fleet AOR. The squadron is being stood up to increase submarine safety and optimize submarine force support to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

“This submarine squadron was specifically commissioned to provide better support to the 5th Fleet during very challenging and demanding times,” said Vice Adm. John W. Miller, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. “The squadron will provide mentorship, lessons learned, logistical and administrative support and coordination with other task forces to support submarine missions here in the region. The standing up of Submarine Squadron 21 is another example of the Navy’s commitment to engagement with partner nations here in the area to include establishing a permanent submarine presence and to support the theater security cooperation mission.”

According to many submarine leaders, the new squadron will benefit the crews and the Navy immensely.

“The establishment of Submarine Squadron 21 will help us to better serve deployed submarines and thereby improve support to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command,” said Rear Adm. Stuart Munsch, commander, Task Force 54.

“I’m excited about the effect Submarine Squadron 21 will have on our ability to contribute to the NAVCENT missions,” said Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer, commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “Captain Fisher and his staff’s regional expertise will ensure our submarines are ready and supported during any contingency.”

The new squadron will help submarines to better prepare for the unique and challenging shallow water, high contact density environments in the 5th Fleet AOR. It will provide deployed submarine assessments and additional training as necessary. The squadron will be able to provide more localized support and be able to improve existing relationships from its forward-deployed location in Manama. 

“Establishing a squadron that is stationed in the region to be intimately familiar with current ops [operations], well acquainted with all theater partners, and the embodiment of submarine operations lessons learned will improve the safety and effectiveness of our submarine deployments to the 5th Fleet,” said Munsch.

“Our mission is to provide combat ready submarines that are always prepared for the unique challenges of this area,” said Fisher. “I think by providing this year round focus on training from one consistent organization, we’ll see the proficiency of all our subs go up.

“We’ll be providing a better product to our customer, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command,” he added. “We want to give him a ship that can do everything he needs it to do and be as good as they can be.”