Great White Fleet was the popular nickname for the powerful United States Navy battleships which 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 numerous countries while displaying new U.S. naval power to the world. 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.
Hoping to enforce treaties and protect overseas holdings, the United States Congress appropriated funds to build American naval power. Beginning in the 1880s with just 90 small ships, over one-third of them wooden and therefore obsolete, the navy quickly grew to include new steel fighting vessels. The hulls of these ships were painted a stark white, giving the armada the nickname “Great White Fleet”.
Great White Fleet
The Great White Fleet refers to a large force of American battleships that circumnavigated the globe between December 16, 1907, and February 22, 1909. Conceived by President Theodore Roosevelt, the fleet’s cruise was intended to demonstrate that the United States could project naval power anywhere in the world as well as to test the operational limits of the fleet’s ships. Beginning on the East Coast, the fleet circled South America and visited the West Coast before transiting the Pacific for port calls in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, China, and the Philippines. The fleet returned home via the Indian Ocean, Suez Canal, and the Mediterranean.
In the years after its triumph in the Spanish-American War, the United States quickly grew in power and prestige on the world stage. A newly established imperial power with possessions that included Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, it was felt that the United States needed to substantially increase its naval power to retain its new global status. Led by the energy of President Theodore Roosevelt, the US Navy built eleven new battleships between 1904 and 1907.