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The U.S. Navy to Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Great White Fleet

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071214-16
Release Date: 12/14/2007 3:50:00 PM


From the Navy News Service

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- One hundred years ago on Dec. 16, 1907, the Great White Fleet departed Hampton Roads, Va., marking the first global naval voyage in America's young history.

The U.S. Navy is honoring the anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt's Great White Fleet deployment over the next year to underscore the Navy's commitment to sustaining a Navy and Marine Corps responsive to the challenges of the 21st century. To kick-off the commemorative period, the Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter, is hosting a ceremony from that very home port on board USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Dec. 15.

In 1907, Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States, sent a portion of the Atlantic fleet on a world tour to test naval readiness, establish global presence and generate international goodwill.

"Theodore Roosevelt's idea to send a fleet of 16 U.S. battleships on a world tour, was a dramatic gesture aimed at audiences both at home and abroad," said Winter. "To the world, the message was that the United States had arrived as a significant world power, outward-looking, and filled with goodwill towards every nation. To the public of this great country, the message was that you have a Navy to be proud of, and that the strength of the U.S. Navy is a primary source of our status as a nation of influence and power."

Sixteen battleships, plus auxiliary support ships and 14,000 Sailors and Marines, embarked on the 14-month journey that covered some 43,000 miles and made 20 port calls on six continents.

The participating ships, painted white except for gilded scrollwork on their bows. This deployment demonstrated to the world that the United States, a maritime nation, had arrived as a significant, outward-looking world power with peaceful intent.

"We are in a time period right now, [in which] we are promulgating our new maritime strategy and just about at the 100th anniversary of the initial sailing of the Great White Fleet," said Winter. "And this was, if you will, a seminal event in the history of the Navy with which Teddy Roosevelt really was able to mark the coming of age of our Navy as a participant on the international domain."

Winter compared the past with the present by alluding to the Navy's Maritime Strategy – "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower."

"I think many of the antecedents of what we now talk about as integral components of our new maritime strategy date back to some of the initial experiments at that time associated with maritime activities," said Winter. "The international engagements, the exercise of the fleet in areas where they have not previously been able to cruise, the exercises of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in places like Mecina in Italy -- all of these are incredible examples of what we now regard of integral components of our maritime strategy."

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