The US Navy Celebrates the 100th Anniversary of Great White Fleet

by OldSailor on December 16, 2007


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Today US Navy celebrates the 100th Anniversary of Great White Fleet. Read on further to know about Great White Fleet.

The cruise of the Great White Fleet
One hundred years before, on the warm, cloudy morning of December 16, 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt stood on the weather-deck of the presidential yacht Mayflower, anchored in the waters off Hampton Roads, Va. He flashed his famous broad, toothy smile and thought how “bully” it was to see a mighty armada of US battleships passing in review before him. The President, and indeed the throngs of onlookers gathered on shore, felt a great sense of pride and exhilaration as 16 battleships of the US Atlantic Fleet, all painted white, save for gilded bows, steamed in a long majestic column out of Hampton Roads to the open sea, flanked by their attending auxiliary ships.

Great White Fleet
To the familiar strains of “The Girl I left Behind Me,” the procession of battlewagons passed before the President at 400-yard intervals with their crews smartly manning the rails. This newly designated battle fleet was made up of ships commissioned since the end of the Spanish-American War. They were USS Kearsarge (BB-5), USS Kentucky (BB-6), USS Illinois (BB-7), USS Alabama (BB-8), USS Maine (BB-10), USS Missouri (BB-11), USS Ohio (BB-12), USS Virginia (BB-13), USS Georgia (BB-15), USS New Jersey (BB-16), USS Rhode Island (BB-17), USS Connecticut (BB-18), USS Louisiana (BB-19), USS Vermont (BB-20), USS Kansas (BB-21) and USS Minnesota (BB-22).

The four squadrons of warships, dubbed the “Great White Fleet,” were manned by 14,000 sailors and marines under the command of Rear Adm. Robley “Fighting Bob” Evans. All were embarking upon a naval deployment the scale of which had never been attempted by any nation before – the first ’round-the-world cruise by a fleet of steam-powered, steel battleships. The 43,000 mile, 14-month circumnavigation would include 20 port calls on six continents; it is widely considered one of the greatest peacetime achievements of the US Navy.
The idea of sending the new battle fleet around the world was the brainchild of the energetic “Teddy” Roosevelt, former colonel of the Rough Riders and one-time assistant secretary of the Navy. Assuming the presidency after the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, Roosevelt brought to the White House a deep conviction that only through a strong navy could a nation project its power and prestige abroad.

Some photographs

US Atlantic Fleet


USS Georgia (BB-15)


USS Virginia (BB-13)


Click here for a slide show of additional photos.

Update: July 24

Naval Station Pearl Harbor commemorated the centennial of President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet aboard the USS Missouri Memorial on July 18, in memory of the Great White Fleet’s historic arrival to Hawaii on July 16, 1908. Read more from U.S. Navy.

Update: October 08

The U.S. Navy commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Great White Fleet in New York on October 07 at Grand Central Terminal with the opening of an exhibit that will run through the 2008 Columbus Celebration ending October 17. Read more from U.S.Navy.

Here are some video clips

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