Great White Fleet

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The Great White Fleet was the popular nickname for the United States Navy battle fleet that completed a circumnavigation of the globe from 16 December 1907 to 22 February 1909 by order of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. It consisted of 16 battleships divided into two squadrons, along with various escorts. Roosevelt sought to demonstrate growing American military power and blue-water navy capability.

Contents

Background

In the twilight of Roosevelt's administration, the president dispatched sixteen U.S. Navy battleships of the Atlantic Fleet, on a worldwide voyage of circumnavigation from 16 December 1907 to 22 February 1909. With their hulls painted white; the Navy's peacetime color scheme, except for the gilded scrollwork with a red, white, and blue banner on their bows, these ships would later come to be known as the Great White Fleet.

Voyage

As the Panama Canal was not yet complete, the fleet would pass through the Straits of Magellan. The scope of such an operation was unprecedented in U.S. history, as ships had to sail from all points of the compass to rendezvous points and proceed according to a carefully-orchestrated, well-conceived plan. It would involve almost the entire operational capability of the U.S. Navy. Unlike the badly coordinated moves of the Russian fleet, which sailed from the Baltic to the Pacific and which eventually led to its destruction by the Japanese in 1905,[1] the U.S. effort would benefit from a peaceful environment which aided the coordination of ship movements.[citation needed] The voyage itself would eventually set a number of world records including sheer number of ships simultaneously circumnavigating the earth.[citation needed]

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