US naval capabilities continued to strengthen throughout the course of World War II, outstripping those of the Japanese Imperial Navy, which was defeated in a number of key naval battles. The shift towards strategic and tactical operations based increasingly around aircraft carriers allowed the US Navy to engage in long range raids against Japanese targets throughout the Western Pacific, including Japanese occupied territories and the home islands. Task Force 58 was the long range offensive force used in many raids against Japanese targets during the spring of 1945 and it proved vital to the numerous successful aerial and naval raids against enemy merchant shipping. The US naval fleet in the Western Pacific was known as the Fifth Fleet under the leadership of Admiral Raymond Spruance who oversaw operational command across the theatre. Spruance alternated command of the fleet with Admiral William Halsey Jr. under whom the fleet was termed the Third Fleet.
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