The Great White Fleet

Tales of an Asia Sailor

The Great White Fleet

At 10:00 a.m. on December 16, 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt gave the order. With a tug on the halyard, tightly wrapped cloth bundles at the yardarm broke open into brilliantly colored signal flags with the order “Proceed upon duty as assigned,” and sixteen of America’s proudest battleships painted immaculate white to symbolize peace got underway for what was to be a 46,000-mile voyage around the world. To Roosevelt, the ships and their missions were symbol and substance of America’s proclamation to the whole world that she was assuming a broader obligation toward maintaining world peace than ever before.

The Great White Fleet was the popular nickname for the powerful United States Navy battle fleet that completed a journey around the globe from 16 December 1907, to 22 February 1909, by order of United States President Theodore Roosevelt. Its mission was to make friendly courtesy visits to…

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