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"The Cruise of the Great White Fleet" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2014 12:35 p.m. PST

"On the warm, cloudy morning of Dec. 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.

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…"
Full text here.

Hope you enjoy!.


GarrisonMiniatures Inactive Member21 Jan 2014 2:34 p.m. PST

It's called the Great WhiteFleet, but to put things in perspective…

In 1907, the Royal Navy had 62 battleships in service or being built. In 1897, the Spithead Review included 21 battleships and 44 (or 53?) cruisers. Likewise, the British Mediterranean fleet itself had at least 8 battleships on permanent station the Great White Fleet basically included most of the US Navy.

Although much is made of the Fleet quite rightly in terms of the prestige it gave the US in world terms I suspect that the British and German navies were probably less impressed by it.

BigNickR21 Jan 2014 2:46 p.m. PST

Yes, but the concept that the US could put a battlegroup anywhere in the world that could equal or take down the battlegroup on station of those larger powers was surely eye-opening.

Kinda like how the US looks at it's carrier battlegroups today versus land-based air forces. Each carrier group is expected to be a "fleet in being" capable of singlehandedly dealing with it's area of operation.

If another nation had a carrier group that could force project just as well as one of ours, we'd take notice of it, and be VERY wary of it… even though we vastly outnumber every other nations sea-going avaition assets combined.

The Great White Fleet said to the world, "We may not be as numerous as you guys, but we can put a fleet as big as any of your duty station fleets anywhere at any time. We aren't a brown-water navy locked to one hemisphere anymore"

Kinda like what China wants to do with it's carrier forces eventually I'd imagine.

Bill Rosser Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2014 4:17 p.m. PST

Unfortunately, the Great White Fleet needed British coaling stations and ships to get where it had to go, there simply wasn't the infrastructure to do it with American hulls.

Good thing was it showed the US Navy the need for bases and/or support ships for long voyages.

AussieAndy Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2014 7:24 p.m. PST

My grandmother watched the GWF steam up Port Phillip to melbourne (Australia). She was only seven or so at the time, but she remebered it all of her life.

Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member22 Jan 2014 12:03 p.m. PST

No other nation had sent a steam power fleet of that size around the world was one point, regardless of coaling stations, etc.

The other and more important point was being made to the Japanese navy at the time.

Final point was to make the world (Japan again) realize that the US was no longer some 3rd rate naval power and that it could (if badly) project that power.


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